Sunday, January 20, 2013

SACS investigating Scott’s involvement in UF presidential search

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) has placed some of the South's biggest research universities under closer scrutiny this year. The University of Virginia is currently on warning status. Now, SACS is investigating whether Gov. Rick Scott went too far in his recent involvement with a presidential decision at the University of Florida (UF).

Scott led the way in pleading for UF President Bernie Machen to rescind his resignation. Just four days before it was expected to hire a new leader, the UF Board of Trustees aborted a presidential search that is estimated to cost no less than $41,000. Machen will remain in charge.

Some UF faculty members are worried that Scott might have improperly interfered with the search process. According to Tampa Bay Times reporter Tia Mitchell: “UF faculty members have expressed concern that Scott was overstepping his authority and interfering in a decision that should be beyond his control.”

Scott’s office confirmed that he met with North Carolina State University Chancellor Randy Woodson at the request of the UF BOT chairman. Even though Woodson didn't submit a formal application for the UF presidency, he was among 70 nominees for the job and was considered by many to be the front-runner.

After Scott’s meeting with Woodson, the governor and UF board chairman released a joint press statement announcing that Machen would stay on as president.

The UF faculty has a long record of demanding that the school uphold the principle of shared governance. Under-the-table presidential choices made by the trustees chairman and governor trample shared governance by locking the faculty out of decision-making process.

Back in December of 2011, SACS scolded Scott for interfering in the FAMU Board of Trustees’ duties by trying to pressure then-President James H. Ammons to resign. SACS told the governor that his actions could jeopardize FAMU’s accreditation.

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