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

UNIVERSITY PRESS

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

UNIVERSITY PRESS

Vice Chair Barbara Feingold chastises Chair Brad Levine at Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday

Tensions arose during Tuesday’s meeting between the two highest members of the Board of Trustees, Barbara Feingold and Brad Levine.
Barbara+Feingold+is+the+Vice+Chair+of+the+FAU+Board+of+Trustees.+Headshot+courtesy+of+FAU+Media+Relations.
Barbara Feingold is the Vice Chair of the FAU Board of Trustees. Headshot courtesy of FAU Media Relations.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with additional comments from board members.

Florida Atlantic University’s Board of Trustees (BOT) Vice Chair Barbara Feingold scolded board chair Brad Levine at Tuesday’s meeting, calling his actions regarding the presidential search process “highly inappropriate” and “highly embarrassing.”

Feingold took issue with Levine’s comments about her suggestion that committee members fill out a “preference survey” detailing their top candidates. In a letter to Levine on July 7,  Florida Board of Governors (BOG) Chancellor Ray Rodrigues named the survey as a factor in seeking to pause the search. 

Feingold, who says she did not vote for any of the three candidates, also thinks the board chair should not have spoken to the Sun Sentinel for a recent editorial, given that search committee members signed a non-disclosure agreement (NDA).

“I resent the fact that you’ve been talking for all of us, which you shouldn’t because of the NDA, and I resent the fact that today you’re talking for me out of turn. I’m meaning that that’s not supposed to be out there for public information yet. That’s why the Board of Governors got involved, and that’s why the inspector general is involved. Because there were not only anomalies, there were ethics violations and a lot of irregularities. You may be painting a certain picture, but it’s not an accurate and true picture. And I resent that,” said Feingold.

Levine did not respond directly to Feingold’s comments, simply asking at the end of her speech that she refer to him as Chair Levine.

Multiple members of the FAU community who attended the BOT meeting reacted to the political influence on the presidential search, and donor Arthur Gutterman remarked on Feingold’s comment during the public forum.

“I thought Trustee Feingold was totally out of line with her venom, and it shows that she does not have the mental —or smarts— to be on this committee or be a trustee of the school,” said Gutterman.

Longtime donor Howard Weiner gave his thoughts on the importance of a president to a university.

“A president of a university typically needs a doctorate in education, economics, or a related field. That person must always have a proven record of succession in higher education, typically gained by working as a university professor or administrator. A college president is always a leader first,” said Weiner. “What does though this mean? It mandates that the next FAU president should be inclusive, rather than divisive, thoughtful rather than dogmatic, and kind rather than hateful. The president must be an educator, not a partisan politician.”

Music professor Rebecca Lautar expressed her strong belief in public institutions and the effect of the paused search on FAU.

“FAU should continue the presidential search as soon as possible while we have viable candidates available. The BOG’s investigation delay puts FAU into a disadvantaged position, and it makes FAU looks dysfunctional and unprofessional,” said Lautar.

College of Dentistry

Ryan Britton, the university’s executive director of government relations, brought forth a letter to the board including a Legislative Budget Request for the proposed College of Dentistry.

The university plans to approach the state to provide $113M in funding for a College of Dentistry, which would be the only public dentistry school in South Florida. During the most recent legislative session, lawmakers approved $40M in initial funding for the project. 

Feingold intervened on Britton’s presentation, saying she feels the board should hold off on making a decision on the College of Dentistry until the BOG’s investigation of the presidential search is closed. 

Levine agreed to hold off on the vote.

She feels Levine’s handling of the search could imperil the university’s relations with state government, which is important given the level of funding from Tallahassee involved.

“We already have approval for a College of Dentistry. We already have funding. And let me tell you what a lot of you don’t understand, is that the state legislature this year is not happy with how FAU has handled this,” said Feingold. “And you think they’re happy with how the search committee went, and how political many of you have addressed this? How people on the call today have made it a political statement? […] This is not political agenda, this is a search. And you’ve created a whole political environment here and you’re creating a whole political environment now.”

Feingold’s late husband Jeffrey was a prominent donor to the university and longtime executive in the dental care insurance industry.

Trustee Shaun Davis quickly attempted to bring the conversation back to the matter at hand.

“Could you bring up that letter again? I’m getting very uncomfortable with the conversation here, and it appears that it’s getting extremely personal, which is something that we have never had before,” said Davis.

Elisabeth Gaffney is the Managing Editor for the University Press. For more information on this article or others, you can reach Elisabeth at [email protected] or DM her on Instagram @elisabethgaff.

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About the Contributor
Elisabeth Gaffney, Managing Editor
Elisabeth is a junior majoring in multimedia journalism and double minoring in linguistics and sociology. She is a creative, kitten and coffee-loving workaholic with a love for the performing arts and storytelling. She hopes to one day work as a reporter at an established newspaper.

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    ryan lermanAug 20, 2023 at 2:23 pm

    Florida Atlantic University’s Board of Trustees (BOT) Vice Chair Barbara Feingold needs to resign or be let go because she is being a bully and also acting in a disrespectful manner. There is no excuse for her actions. Donor Arthur Gutterman exposed her by saying that she was totally out of line with her venom, and it shows that she does not have the mental —or smarts— to be on this committee or be a trustee of the school. Her ungrateful attitude is one of the many reasons why she is in trouble.

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