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.


Woman appointed to FAU’s Board of Trustees declined job offer

The woman Gov. Rick Scott appointed as the newest member of FAU’s Board of Trustees quit before she even started. The university’s BOT — its 13 highest-ranking officials — decide tuition rates and how student money is spent.

On April 26, Elizabeth Fago Smith, a principal partner at Palm Health Partners, a healthcare facilities company, wrote a letter to Gov. Scott that explained that she declined the offer because of her “company’s ongoing business deals with the University.”

It is unclear whether Fago Smith and FAU President Mary Jane Saunders have a close relationship.

In a letter to Gov. Scott last November, E. Llwyd Ecclestone, a former member of FAU’s BOT and the chairman of the National Investment Company in West Palm Beach wrote: “Elizabeth has a close working relationship with Mary Jane Saunders, both personally and through her involvement with Scripps Palm Health Partners.”

As of publication time, Fago Smith could not be reached for comment, but in her letter to Scott, she wrote, “There is not any conflict of interest, however I wish to avoid any appearance of impropriety.”

Fago Smith’s appointment was not without controversy. She received media attention from local newspapers and bloggers because of her financial history.

From public records, the Palm Beach Post found that she owed the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) $75,000 in “unpaid taxes” going back 15 years, Jose Lambiet reported on his blog, Gossip Extra. As the overseer of 59 healthcare facilities, Fago Smith gave “hundreds of thousands of dollars” to the Republican Party while the funding for her employees’ benefits was lacking, Lambiet wrote.

And back in 2005, she resigned from her Scripps overseer position after she donated $1 million to the research center, Sun Sentinel staff writer Mike Clary wrote.

However, President Mary Jane Saunders, was quoted saying, “I know Ms. Fago Smith because she was co-honorary chair of our scholarship gala. But I did not nominate her. The governor’s office does that,” on Lambiet’s blog.

As of publication time, Saunders could not be reached for comment.

If Fago Smith had accepted the position and been confirmed by the Florida Senate, she would have joined seven of the 12 other BOT members with similar financial baggage, according to the UP’s year-long investigation of the Trustees.

Fago Smith’s name already appears on the university’s official list of BOT members.

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