FAU seeks a president ‘dedicated to academic freedom’ and diversity amid politics 2023

The next Florida Atlantic University president should champion academic freedom, appreciate diversity, and lead with compassion. The FAU presidential search committee wants that, according to a draft job description.

Faculty, donors, and community leaders want someone to elevate FAU. They prefer a terminal degree and top university academic and senior leadership experience.

After Republican State Rep. Randy Fine, a self-described “conservative firebrand,” was apparently approached by Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration, some academicians worried that politics could influence the search.

With the stakes rising, FAU is looking for a president who is “committed to academic freedom” and diversity.

Former casino executive Fine has no academic leadership experience. He’s a self-described “conservative firebrand” who co-sponsored House Bill 1557, the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, and the House version of the “Protection of Children” Act, which prohibits children from attending drag shows.

“Academic experience and ability to deal with the academic faculty,” said board member and FAU supporter Dick Schmidt at a search committee meeting earlier this month.

Schmidt added, “Starting out behind the eight ball with the faculty pretty much aligned against you is not a good place to start a new presidency.

The search committee and private consulting firm AGB Search are creating the presidential profile, a detailed job description that will set the tone for applicants.

The next FAU president will be “committed to academic freedom, maintaining an effective shared governance model, and continuing to recruit and retain an enthusiastic, diverse, and professional team of administration, faculty, and staff,” according to a draft profile.

The letter states that candidates with academic and senior leadership experience at “aspirational colleges and universities” are “strongly encouraged to apply.”

“If we’re going to get to a top 100 school, it’s nice to have someone who gives confidence to all of us that we have someone who’s been there, been at that sort of university and been in a leadership position there,” said Daniel Gropper, Dean of FAU’s College of Business and search committee member.

Candidates should also demonstrate “integrity, collegiality, trust, support of scholarship, and enthusiasm” and “embracing, embodying, advocating for the institution’s collective values.”

The next president should be “a leader who shows the courage and conviction necessary to effect decisions with compassion and care.”

FAU’s multiculturalism

Kim Dunn, FAU’s Faculty Senate president, the search committee, and the Board of Trustees, believes that includes recognizing the university’s ethnic diversity. FAU is one of the most diverse universities in the nation, with 27% Hispanic and 20% Black students.

“One of the most common comments that I heard was the pride we take in our diversity as a Hispanic-Serving Institution and also our social mobility… accomplishments and awards,” Dunn added. “This institution is proud of those.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis has threatened to defund diversity, equity, and inclusion projects including race, identity, and history classes at Florida’s public colleges, calling them leftist indoctrination.

The presidential profile is finalized by the FAU Board of Trustees (BOT), which is dominated by gubernatorial and BOG appointees. The board will vote online on April 25. Searching begins then.

The BOT will choose finalists after the FAU presidential search committee and AGB Search identify and vet candidates. BOG approval is required for trustee nominee.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *