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

UNIVERSITY PRESS

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

UNIVERSITY PRESS

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

UNIVERSITY PRESS

FAU Board of Trustees suspends presidential search

In response to a letter from SUS Chancellor Ray Rodrigues, FAU Board of Trustees Chair Brad Levine suspends the presidential search.
FAU+Boca+Raton+campus+Administration+Building.
Tim Murphy
FAU Boca Raton campus Administration Building.

Chancellor Ray Rodrigues of the State University System of Florida (SUS) sent a letter to the Florida Atlantic University Board of Trustees Chair Brad Levine on Friday outlining issues with the presidential search and asking for a suspension, according to Florida Rep. Anna Eskamani, who represents parts of Orange County, Fla.

FAU has been searching for a president since President John Kelly stepped down at the end of the previous calendar year, leaving Interim President Stacy Volnick in charge. On Wednesday, the Presidential Search Committee announced three finalists for president: former University of North Carolina Wilmington Chancellor Jose Sartarelli, Vice Admiral Sean Buck, and Florida State University College of Business Dean Michael Hartline. Hartline declined to comment.

Gov. Ron DeSantis approached Republican Florida House of Representative Randy Fine, who represents southern Brevard County, Fla., in March and encouraged him to apply to become the next president of FAU. 

The Florida Board of Governors is a 17-member governing body of the SUS. Fourteen of these members are appointed by DeSantis and confirmed by the Florida Senate for a seven-year term. The Florida Board of Governors appointed Rodrigues, a former 10-year member of the state’s House of Representatives and Senate, in September.

On Saturday, FAU sent an email informing students that the planned presidential candidate forums are canceled and the presidential search is suspended.

“Following a written request from the Chancellor of the Florida State University System Board of Governors, FAU Board of Trustees Chair Brad Levine has agreed to suspend the university’s presidential search until further notice,” the email said.

In Rodrigues’ letter, he wrote that SUS was informed of alleged “anomalies” in the search, one of which being a straw poll given to search committee members, where they were asked to rank their top six preferred candidates out of 60. The straw poll was conducted confidentially and was not disclosed to the public.

Rodrigues also alluded to concerns about a certain questionnaire AGB Search, the firm assisting the Presidential Search Committee, sent to candidates. He stated one candidate reported receiving a question about his sexual orientation, which is considered potentially discriminatory by the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

“We did not authorize that questionnaire, we never received any information that AGB Search may have acquired from it, and we do not think that such a questionnaire is warranted for a State University search in Florida. We are taking appropriate and aggressive action with AGB Search to address that,” wrote Levine in his response letter.

Joshua Glanzer, FAU associate vice president of media relations and public affairs, provided no further comment from the university.

“This is a politically motivated attack of higher education that should disturb all Floridians,” Eskamani wrote in a statement to the UP. “Politics should not be involved in any presidential search. Florida is known to have some of the best colleges and universities and actions like this erode both our academic integrity and freedom.” 

Numerous FAU staff members did not respond to requests for comment by the time of publication. FAU Board of Trustees Operations liaison Andrew LaPlant sent UP reporters to media relations.

Florida Rep. Randy Fine, who Gov. Ron DeSantis recommended for the position and was not named among the three finalists, declined to comment.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

Elisabeth Gaffney contributed to reporting on this article.

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

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About the Contributors
Jessica Abramsky
Jessica Abramsky, Editor-in-Chief
Jessica Abramsky is a staff writer for the University Press. She previously served as the Editor-in-Chief during the 2023-2024 school year and as News Editor during the Spring 2023 semester. She is a junior majoring in multimedia journalism who hopes to be a respected editor at a major news organization. You can reach Jessica at [email protected] or DM her on Instagram @jessabramsky.
Tim Murphy
Tim Murphy, Web Photo Editor
Tim is a communication major that joined the University Press in the fall of 2014 as a contributing photographer. You can follow him on Instagram: @timmurphyphotography

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