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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

FAU Board of Trustees Chair Brad Levine under fire by the Board of Governors for his latest mishap

The Board of Governors voted no-confidence in FAU BOT Chair Brad Levine after he potentially broke the Florida Sunshine Law.
Board+of+Trustees+Chair+Brad+Levine+reacts+to+Governor+Alan+Levines+concerns+at+Wednesdays+Board+of+Governors+meeting.+Courtesy+of+TheFloridaChannel.org.
Board of Trustees Chair Brad Levine reacts to Governor Alan Levine’s concerns at Wednesday’s Board of Governors meeting. Courtesy of TheFloridaChannel.org.

The Board of Governors (BOG) debated Wednesday over the extension of FAU Interim President Stacy Volnick’s contract, but not because of Volnick – instead because there was never a contract to begin with. This discovery led to a no-confidence vote in Board of Trustees (BOT) Chair Brad Levine. 

In September 2022, the BOT unanimously approved Stacy Volnick, the former chief operating officer and vice president of student affairs, to the position of interim president. The BOT brought the approval to the BOG floor, who confirmed her position. 

Now, in January 2024, after a failed presidential search, Chair Levine presented an extension to Volnick’s contract to the BOG, but it stirred some controversy among the governors about the legality of both a lack of public notice and the existence of her contract in the first place.

According to Governor Alan Levine, the BOG originally approved the terms of Volnick’s employment under specific conditions.

“Our approval in November of 2022… had a contingency in it that a contract document was going to be executed. That was a condition of us approving the terms,” Governor Levine said. “There’s no contract.”

The only documents on the BOG’s agenda for their Nov. 9, 2022 meeting were a letter of consideration from Chair Levine, Volnick’s curriculum vitae, and a summary of her contract terms.

A trustee’s concern

Volnick’s performance evaluation letter was the only document in this past November meeting’s agenda, which called for a 5% increase in her base salary.

Ray Rodrigues, the chancellor of the State University System of Florida, detailed to the BOG that FAU trustee Linda Stoch emailed FAU’s general counsel saying she did not receive a copy of the updated contract and raised the concern at the November meeting. He had been working with the BOG and BOT general counsels since December to investigate this issue.

At the referenced November meeting, Stoch had made a motion to postpone voting on Volnick’s contract extension until the full board had received the proper documentation. 

“None of us have received it,” Stoch had said in the meeting, to which Chair Levine replied saying he would provide that information to her, and then quickly moved on. The board never clarified whether Chair Levine provided the documentation.

Per Fla. Statute 120.525, a governing board must provide notice for all meetings, which includes providing all necessary materials, such as a contract consisting of necessary terms and conditions, to the public at least seven days in advance. Both the BOG and the FAU BOT also have to abide by this regulation.

“If [proper documentation was] not provided in advance, that would be a violation of Florida Statute 120.525,” Governor Levine said.

In Wednesday’s BOG meeting, Chair Levine told Governor Levine the terms were presented to the BOT in advance of the meeting, to which Governor Levine responded that he had clicked the link on the November 2023 agenda and saw only the letter.

BOG Chair Brian Lamb, with very strong conviction, then made a suggestion.

“My suggestion is that we just fix it. We just fix it, okay?” BOG Chair Brian Lamb said resolutely. “And fix it fast, because I think you deserve that, President Volnick.”

A governor’s suggestion

One governor suggested that Chair Levine not continue in his position.

“The FAU search is a mess, and that’s a reflection of us,” Governor Craig Mateer said. “And I personally believe that Chair Levine should resign, or we should find a path to remove him.”

Mateer then made a motion that the board vote no-confidence for Chair Levine’s role in the FAU BOT. The motion carried with a majority vote from the board.

Governor Eric Silagy opposed the no-confidence vote, saying he did not hear anything about the public meeting issue, which Chancellor Rodrigues said he had known about and had been working on since December, so the board should take more time to decide on Chair Levine’s fate.

The board’s reassurance

Governor Charles Lyedecker made it a point to clarify the intent of the debate for the FAU community and Volnick.

“FAU has been through a lot, and I do think it is important that our messaging is very very careful in how it goes back to the FAU community,” Lyedecker said. “This is a technical fix, but our intentions are very clear; that it is to be approved as soon as possible.”

The BOG is permitting Volnick to continue as the acting interim president until the FAU BOT acts to cure the potential violation of the law.

 

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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