The intersection of politics and science is both fragile and dangerous. This has never been more evident than last week, when it appeared that political influence may have caused the State University System Board of Governors to halt the search for Florida Atlantic University’s next president.
Numerous press reports suggest that the motive for this interference is that the university committee authorized to conduct the search did not consider reports of a personal selection of the governor for the position among three prominent candidates nominated to the school’s board of trustees for the position.
If these reports are correct, they point to a continuing trend of interference in presidential elections at public universities and colleges to give these important positions to elected politicians, as reported in recent searches at the University of Florida, Florida New College, and the State College of the South. Florida.
To enforce this outrageous cessation of search activity, the Chancellor of the Florida Board of Governors, which oversees the state’s university system, accused the President’s Search Committee of improper activity in the search process based on actions that were completely inaccurate and out of context. The search committee included numerous FAU stakeholder representatives, including faculty, student, administration, external faculty, and sponsors, all of the highest pedigree. I had the honor to be included in this group.
Dick Schmidt is a member of the FAU Presidential Election Committee.
The search resulted in over 60 applications for the position, 12 of which were current or former university presidents, another dozen or more senior university administrators, and other candidates with varying degrees of alternative backgrounds. Among the finalists who were overwhelmingly nominated by the search committee to the university’s board of trustees were a vice admiral and superintendent of the United States Naval Academy, a former chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and a dean and former interim vice president of Florida. State University.
As a participant in the selection process, I feel comfortable because we had proper access to all candidates and their biographical information, and we had thoughtful and thorough discussions by the committee. I am delighted with the candidates we have put forward. I am personally outraged and slandered by the consequences of the chancellor’s letter for me and my colleagues for what appears to be an attempt to wind down our successful, hard work and resume the search for a candidate more sympathetic to some politicians.
The Search Committee followed the process required of it by the Board of Governors, which had a representative on the committee. The result of this process was the recommendation of the finalists most suitable for this work. Chancellor Ray Rodriguez must respect our decision and allow the process to continue.
Dick Schmidt has been a business executive in South Florida for many years and he and his family are FAU’s biggest contributors. Schmidt is a member of the FAU Presidential Selection Committee, an FAU alumnus (class of 1970), and a former associate professor at the FAU College of Business. As CEO of Schmidt Companies, he lives and works in Boca Raton.