Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton. Credit: FAU.
Despite Florida Atlantic University’s explanations and efforts to ensure that its presidential search has been on the up-and-up, Board of Governors Chancellor Ray Rodrigues continues to pursue a state investigation, garnering backlash from United Faculty of Florida members and politicians.
This week, FAU, based in Boca Raton in South Florida, had to cancel public forums with the three finalists for the presidential role. Rodrigues earlier paused the process because of alleged anomalies raised by an anonymous person.
The State University System of Florida — the agency in charge of regulating the entire public university system — assigned its Inspector General Julie Leftheris to investigate the process, wrote Rodrigues in a letter to the university on July 11.
“The investigation will be thorough, fair and a determination will not be reached in haste,” Rodrigues wrote.
Before working for the Board of Governors, Leftheris served as the Inspector General for the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, according to her biography in the State University System of Florida website.
Regardless of how the search has turned out, Vice Admiral Sean Buck — the superintendent of the United States Naval Academy is one of the three finalists — told Florida Phoenix on Thursday that he is still honored to be a finalist.
“I look forward to when the process will recommence and move forward, and, hopefully, become a teammate of the FAU faculty and staff,” he said.
The other two finalists are Jose Startarelli, former chancellor of the University of North Carolina Wilmington, and Michael Hartline, dean of the College of Business at Florida State University.
It appears that the university’s Board of Trustees Chair Brad Levine’s defense against allegations that the presidential search process lacked transparency did not appease Rodrigues, who wrote that “admissions” that FAU didn’t know about a voluntary questionnaire sent to applicants underscored the state’s concern.
The Florida Phoenix earlier reported that the company advising the presidential search administers the questionnaire for all of their searches, including the University of Florida, FSU, the University of South Florida and the University of North Florida.
Meanwhile, a name was missing from the group of FAU finalists — state House Rep. Randy Fine, who represents part of Brevard County.
He did not make the cut after saying in March that Gov. Ron DeSantis approached him about the position “but had not received a formal offer or said if he would accept the job,” according to The Palm Beach Post. The Republican lawmaker, who is a former gambling industry executive, is one of the representatives who has opposed drag shows.
Fine has also faced controversy at times. As previously reported by the Florida Phoenix, a civil rights advocacy group filed a complaint in August of 2021 against Fine, alleging “hateful” and “atrocious” social media comments calling Palestinians “animals” and Muslims “monsters” and “terrorists.”
Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.