The Phoenix Flyer

Faculty union in FL demands UF officials release information on finalists in presidential search

By: - October 24, 2022 4:32 pm

University of Florida. Credit: UF website.

Higher education union officials on Monday urged the University of Florida to release information related to its presidential search – consisting of more than 700 applicants for the position – and especially release the names of the final pool of candidates.

The United Faculty of Florida (UFF) has submitted a public records request “demanding the information required by Florida” law related to the applicants and “the personal identifying information of the final pool of 12 candidates for the position,” according to a press release from the group.

U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb. (Photo by Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Images)

UFF also questioned the legality of UF’s process that resulted in selecting one final candidate to become its new president – U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse, a Republican from Nebraska. In the past, Sasse was president of a small college in Nebraska, while UF has tens of thousands of students enrolled.

The university is obligated to provide information on age, race, and gender of all applicants, as well as “the personal identifying information of an applicant included in the final group of applicants,” UFF noted.

Faculty union leaders also pledged to take legal action if university officials resist “obligations under Florida statute” to release the information and delay the hiring of the new UF president “until this statutory requirement has been met.”

Andrew Gothard, UFF President, said in a written statement:

J. Andrew Gothard, president of United Faculty of Florida. Credit: UFF.

“I stood before committees and legislators earlier this year and told them to their faces what would happen if they passed a presidential searches exemption, but legislators on both sides of the aisle ignored me, their constituents and thousands of members of the higher education community. We didn’t want this law, but we without a doubt plan to enforce the shreds of transparency still left in this process.”

Sasse was among more than 700 leaders in higher education and backgrounds outside of the field, UF stated in an announcement in early October. The University of Florida Presidential Search Committee had unanimously recommended Sasse as “the sole finalist for consideration by its Board of Trustees who will select the 13th president” of UF.

State Sen. Jeff Brandes, a Republican who co-sponsored the measure that was signed into law, said UF’s “search for a new president violates the intent of a new state law that governs the process,” the Tampa Bay Times reported.

He told the Tampa Bay Times that “the goal was to get to finalists, not announce who the person was as the only finalist.”

Meanwhile, The Gainesville Sun reports Monday that: “The UF Faculty Senate is expected to meet Thursday for a vote of no confidence on U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse being chosen as the sole finalist for university president and the search process that led to his selection. An emergency meeting will take place Oct. 27 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. where faculty members will debate on adopting a resolution of no confidence. The meeting comes before Sasse, R-Neb., is expected to be interviewed Nov. 1 by the board of trustees.”

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Issac Morgan
Issac Morgan

Issac Morgan is a 2009 graduate of Florida A&M University's School of Journalism, and a proud native of Tallahassee. He has covered city council and community events at the Gadsden County Times, worked as a sports news assistant at the Tallahassee Democrat, a communications specialist for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and as a proofreader at the Florida Law Weekly.