Orlando Sentinel by Gray Rohrer
February 26, 2020
TALLAHASSEE – A lawmaker who wants to hide the names of initial applicants to lead state universities cited the small pool of applicants in UCF’s ongoing search for a president before a Senate panel Wednesday.
“The University of Central Florida, which is a huge university in the number one ranked state in the nation, and we have 12 applicants,” said Sen. Manny Diaz, R-Hialeah, sponsor of SB 774, citing an Orlando Sentinel story from earlier this month. “We need this bill.”
UCF’s pool of candidates has since grown to 15, but two of them are undergraduates and few have the management experience at top-tier universities. Diaz said that’s because Florida colleges and universities are at a disadvantage to other states because of Florida’s Sunshine Laws. Sitting presidents at other universities are hesitant to apply for top jobs in Florida because their employers would know they’re looking to leave.
A spokesperson for UCF did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
Even if the bill becomes law, however, it wouldn’t take effect until July 1, so it’s unlikely it would affect UCF’s presidential search, which is ongoing.
But open government advocates and opponents of the bill said it wasn’t necessary and could lead universities and colleges to leave the public in the dark on all the candidates except the person who is ultimately selected.