‘I don’t know’: FAU official cannot say how to educate state legislature against HB 999

The Faculty Senate gave updates on the presidential and provost searches, approved new degree programs, and discussed Florida legislation that affects higher education.


Nicholas Windfelder

Kimberly Dunn addresses the Faculty Senate.

Jessica Abramsky, News Editor

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the name of the search firm tasked with finding the next president of FAU.

The Florida Atlantic University Faculty Senate met to discuss the Board of Trustees, the Board of Governors, academic program changes, new Florida legislation, and more on Monday.

In the Faculty Senate’s third meeting of the Spring 2023 semester, the agenda called for updates on a permanent provost and president, the addition of the B.A. in General Business to the College of Business and the B.A. in Global Studies to the College of Arts & Letters.

The Faculty Senate, presided over by Kimberly Dunn, started off the meeting by congratulating the men’s basketball team for making it to the Final Four in the NCAA tournament.

“There’s been a lot of talk about FAU making it to the Final Four in basketball, and while that’s wonderful, looking at the social mobility, something that every single person in this room makes an impact on the lives of students and we are ranked number one out of all the schools that made it to the NCAA tournament,” Dunn said, while addressing members of the Faculty Senate.

Presidential Search

Roderick McDavis, the Managing Principal of AGB Search, the team responsible for finding FAU’s next president, delivered remarks stating that the team has spoken to a multitude of people at FAU and learned a lot about FAU and its values. 

McDavis said that they have set up a website that will provide updates on the presidential search, including listening sessions that are being held on Monday, April 3, via Zoom.

The information being gathered at these listening sessions will help AGB Search a presidential profile.

Provost Search

Dunn delivered a message on behalf of Interim President Stacy Volnick regarding the provost search, who serves a two year term. Currently, the interim provost is Michele Hawkins.

Dunn said that there will be an open forum with all the candidates for the position and a search committee. The members of the search committee will be named in the coming days, as the provost will be named by the end of the semester. 

“I think it’s very important given where we are as a state institution,” Dunn said.

It is the president’s job to name a provost, in consultation with the Board of Trustees, so Dunn hopes that faculty voices will be heard while considering the candidates. 

“The provost is the chief academic officer, and in that role, has a very powerful role in curriculum and things that impact students,” Dunn said.

Florida Legislature

FAU has a constant presence at all government levels, Ryan Britton, the executive director of FAU government relations, said.

Britton said that the legislative session is currently three weeks in and the budget is being discussed.

“The budget process, for many of those who know, tends to culminate at the end of session with budget conference for anything to be passed into law, the budget included as well as any bills they have to pass and I know the specifics one on one but they have to pass both chambers in the exact same format,” Britton said.

Within the budget, there is a building proposal for the College of Dentistry of $20 million in the House of Representatives and $9 Senate.

Britton noted the uncertainty among faculty, who don’t yet know the ways HB 999  and SB 7026 would impact their day-to-day duties and the higher ed sector more generally.

“What else can we see in advocating and educating our legislators about like dangers of HB 999,” College of Arts & Letters Professor Nicole Morse asked Britton.

Britton responded by saying “I don’t know, is my answer to it but also the real situation that will likely present itself, which is in most legislative bodies, Florida Legislature is not unique Federal Congress works this way to the Senate tends to be the more moderate body and I’m not speaking about political affiliations or anything else.”

Program Changes

The College of Business now has a general business degree. The Faculty Senate approved a proposal to create a B.A. in General Business degree at meeting on Monday.

“It is intended for students who are non-traditional students that are not particularly interested in a specific major right so this is a program that’s offered by the College. It’s also intended for students who are transferring from state colleges with A.A. degrees,” said a spokesman from the College of Business.

The Faculty Senate also added a B.A. in Global Studies to the College of Arts & Letters.

“The central goal of this program is to take a lot of the insights experiences curricular efforts, courses that are already existing within our colleges and package them in a way that allows students to have more workforce ready goals and more sort of skill sets across a number of areas get through design, policy restriction discourse,” said a spokeswoman from the College of  Arts & Letters.

Jessica Abramsky is the News Editor for the University Press. For more information on this article or others, you can reach Jessica at [email protected] or DM her on Instagram @jessabramsky.