Saturday, March 14, 2009

Bill to clarify BOT authority

Last year, Florida’s Board of Governors introduced a controversial proposal to increase its presence in the hiring and evaluation processes for university presidents. The idea met fierce resistance from boards of trustees across Florida.

On Wednesday, a bill clarifying trustee authority cleared the Florida Senate’s Government Oversight and Accountability Committee. It calls for trustees to exercise the exclusive power to appoint and supervise the institution’s chief executive.

The bill has the support of FAMU alumnus and Senate Democratic Leader Al Lawson.

“It’s probably the best thing to do,” he said.

FAMU alumni have had a very rocky relationship with the BOG over presidential matters. Many were angered at the board’s strong support for former Interim President Castell V. Bryant, who was responsible for the university’s only qualified state audits and recent probation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Large numbers of alumni also believed that the BOG gave a cold reception to current President James Ammons, who cleaned up the bad audits and accreditation problems that Bryant left.

The bill could become another source of tension between the legislature and BOG. The BOG is suing lawmakers for control of tuition. It cites state constitutional language that says: “The board shall operate, regulate, control, and be fully responsible for the management of the whole university system.”

Sen. Jeremy Ring, another lawmaker who has been highly critical of the BOG in the past, said that the board has not spoken to him about the bill.

“The BOG has not come to me about this,” Ring said. “If they don’t have a problem with it we shouldn’t.”

Opinion: Fla. Senate must hold BOG accountable

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