Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


So long, Mr. President

Sitting at his desk eating jellybeans, Frank Brogan  tries to decide how he feels about heading to Tallahassee again.

Six and a half years ago he left Florida’s capital and his job as lieutenant governor under then-Governor Jeb Bush to become president of his alma mater.

On Sept. 14 he’ll be back upstate to begin his new job as chancellor of Florida’s State University System, where he’ll oversee Florida’s 11 public universities. Until then, he looks back on his time as FAU’s president and contemplates his departure from FAU.

He isn’t just leaving a job; he’s leaving a school he graduated from in 1981 and a place where he feels he’s accomplished great things.

When he began his position as FAU’s president in 2003, FAU was still a last-choice school for many students.
“In the old days students would say, ‘I came to Florida Atlantic University because I didn’t get accepted to the University of Florida or Florida State.’ Now we’re over 28,000 [students].”

FAU received over 13,893 applications for the fall 2009 semester. That’s an increase of 743 applications from the amount received for the fall 2008 semester.

Brogan thinks this jump in students wanting to go to FAU is not only a good sign as to how people view the university, but also says great things about FAU’s future.
“This university’s no longer a question mark as to what it’s going to be when it grows up,” he says. “It’s going to be a full-fledged comprehensive research university with all of the activities and amenities that any great university should have, and that just can’t be denied at this point.”

For all of the ways in which Brogan has helped FAU grow, his decisions haven’t always been met with gratitude. Some have been met with opposition. Recently, Brogan’s decision to fire five tenured professors within the College of Engineering and Computer Science led to arguments from the FAU chapter of a union known as United Faculty of Florida.

That decision made headlines, with at least five stories in the Sun-Sentinel as well as several in the Palm Beach Post.

Since then, those five professors have been offered other jobs within the university, and FAU is currently looking to place them in permanent positions.

James Tracy, the president of the union’s FAU chapter and a professor within the communications department, has voiced his contempt for Brogan and the FAU Board of Trustees, a governing committee which makes decisions for FAU.
“Over the past several months, former Lieutenant Governor Brogan and the FAU Board of Trustees, which consists almost solely of political appointees, have done a great deal to exhibit their sheer contempt for FAU faculty members,” says Tracy in a July 17 message on the FAU union Web site.

As chancellor, Brogan will have more responsibility and face more opposition than before.

Looking forward
Brogan’s new job requires him to supervise the universities and ensure that all of the universities’ affairs are handled and supported properly.

He’ll also be required to represent the state universities in front of Florida’s government and will work closely with each university president, including FAU’s interim president and former provost, John Pritchett, and Florida International University President and former Chancellor Mark Rosenberg.

 “I worked very closely with Frank Brogan. I consider him a friend and a colleague, and I’m thrilled that he’s going to be succeeding me as chancellor,” Rosenberg says.
But the position that Brogan will be inheriting isn’t the same that Rosenberg faced on his first days in office in 2005.

Rosenberg wrote an article for the Sun-Sentinel that was published on Aug. 23, which explains that Brogan will face having to help students realize that there are no longer “lifetime jobs” and that students are more than likely to have several jobs in their lifetimes.
“Universities must more rapidly adapt to this new reality,” explains Rosenberg. “Their curricula are largely based on an earlier era pivoting around the United States as the economic center of the world.”

Mostly, Rosenberg believes that Brogan is inheriting universities that are in crisis due to the economy.

But in light of the economy and recent budget cuts, Brogan knows that FAU will do well after he leaves.
“As I exit here in the next couple of weeks, the one thing that makes the transition easier is absolutely knowing that this university’s in great hands,” Brogan explains. “It’s matured to the point that it can’t be denied.”


Anthony Catanese was Frank Brogan’s predecessor as FAU president. Although Brogan has done a lot to expand the size and academic reputation of FAU, Catanese helped set that precedent. Here are the highlights and lowlights of each president’s term:

Anthony J. Catanese, Ph.D.
Reign as president: 1990 to 2002

Dr. Catanese left his position as FAU’s president to become the president of the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne. He’s credited with transforming FAU from a small college into an established university.

1. Under Catanese, FAU gained three campuses: Port St. Lucie (1996), Dania Beach (1996) and Jupiter (1998). The Davie campus was also expanded under Catanese in 1998.

2. More than 30 degree programs were created, starting with 101 and ending with 137.

3. The student body more than doubled, increasing from 10,500 students to 25,000.

4. The university’s endowment increased from $18 million to $150 million.

5. Catanese started our young football program.

1. Catanese approved a 34 percent increase in student fees that would benefit the football program. This increase made FAU the most expensive state university in Florida to attend.

2. In September 2000, FAU didn’t receive any of the $3 million in government funds that was allotted to Florida universities with high graduation rates because, as Catanese admitted, the university’s graduation rate at that time was only 46 percent.

3. After announcing his resignation as FAU’s president, Catanese requested a cherry-red Corvette as a parting gift. FAU’s chief fundraiser at the time embezzled money from the FAU Foundation, a non-profit organization, to buy Catanese the sports car. She was eventually arrested and, according to a 2003 St. Petersburg Times article, “pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of falsifying records.”


Frank T. Brogan
Reign as president: 2003 to 2009

President Brogan leaves his position as FAU’s president in mid-September to become the chancellor of Florida’s State University System. He’s credited with putting FAU on the map.

1. Under Brogan and Coach Howard Schnellenberger’s guidance, the Owls football team has won two consecutive bowl games. Our football team’s also the fastest startup university football program to win a bowl game.

2. The Scripps Research Facility was built on FAU’s Jupiter campus, which allows for the university to be involved in cutting-edge research.

3. FAU acquired the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution as a satellite campus. This scientific research facility conducts ocean research in an attempt to find cures for cancer, AIDS, Alzheimer’s and other currently incurable diseases.

4. Brogan established a deal with Clearwire Corporation, a private wireless broadband service provider. FAU agreed to lease excess Internet bandwidth in return for an estimated $173 million over the possible course of 30 years. FAU collected $8.6 million in the first year of the agreement.

1. In April 2007, Brogan fired chief fundraiser Lawrence Davenport. At that point, Davenport had only worked two years of his six-year contract. Per his contract, Davenport was guaranteed severance pay, and he was eventually given $577,952 after being fired. The funds came from money that was deposited in FAU’s vending machines. The prices of the items in those vending machines were raised by 25 cents to compensate for Davenport’s severance pay.

Students boycotted Brogan’s decision to use their money to pay such a large amount to a man who was fired.

2. Five tenured professors in the College of Engineering and Computer Science were fired in May 2009. Since then, the FAU chapter of the union known as United Faculty of Florida has expressed contempt for Brogan’s decision.

    “Brogan has brandished his power by commanding administrators to carry out dubious practices, such as … layoffs of tenured faculty — practices that administrators with some measure of professional integrity would have condemned or refused to partake in,” said chapter president James Tracy on July 18, according to the Palm Beach Post.

3. Faculty Union professors requested a 10 percent salary raise in September 2008 after Brogan’s salary increased by the same amount. Their request was ultimately denied. FAU cited budget cuts and offered these professors a 1 percent raise and a one-time $1,000 bonus.

However, shortly after that, 48 faculty members received 10 percent raises.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

Do you have something to say? Submit your comments below
All UNIVERSITY PRESS Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *