A bill that would make secret all searches for public university and college presidents was pulled from consideration Thursday even as a Senate panel was discussing it.
Senate Republican Leader Bill Galvano of Bradenton moved to “temporarily postpone” the bill (SB 182) after he chatted with several other members of the Rules committee on the dais, then pulled bill sponsor Alan Hays aside.
“I was taking the temperature of the committee and there were some concerns raised,” Galvano said after the meeting.
Translated, that means: The bill didn’t have enough ‘yes’ votes.
“I don’t know how they ultimately would have voted but it was enough for me to share with the bill sponsor that … perhaps it’s better to slow it down,” Galvano added.
Now, searches are open under the Sunshine Laws; the names of candidates and their resumes are public record, for instance, and meetings about the hiring process are open to the public.
The measure originally would have applied to searches for presidents, provosts and deans, but was amended Thursday to leave dean searches in the sunshine.
Otherwise, it exempts candidates’ identifying information and closes initial interviews and related meetings from public view.
Meetings on how much the position will pay and the list of finalists would remain public.
The bill also provides for a 30-day review period before any “final action or vote” when all candidates’ information is opened up for public inspection.
The bill brought out a varied mix of opponents, including open government advocates, college professors and veterans.
Through open searches, it became known then-state Sen. John Thrasher was interested in becoming Florida State University’s president – a job he eventually got – and that state CFO Jeff Atwater applied for the presidency of Florida Atlantic University.
But Hays, an Umatilla Republican, said many qualified candidates don’t apply. They fear their job will be threatened if their current employer finds out they’re interested in moving on.
“This is so simple,” Hays said after the meeting. “I don’t understand why people don’t grasp the idea.
“I’m not trying to make everything secretive,” he added, noting that students and faculty members will likely still be on selection committees. “We’re just trying to make sure we have the deepest quality pool of applicants we can get.”
Original article here.