Tallahassee Democrat by Bryon Dobson
January 28, 2020
A bill that would keep secret names of applicants for presidencies of Florida’s public universities and state colleges until they become finalists cleared a key legislative panel this week.
The Senate Education Committee OK’d the bill (SB 774) on a 6-1 vote Monday. The proposal is similar to legislation that failed in previous sessions.
This year’s version creates an exemption from public records and public meetings requirements for any personal identifying information associated with applicants for president of a state university or Florida College System institution.
Secrecy surrounding those names does not apply, however, once a group of at least three finalists are picked. Then, the candidates’ information must be made public at least 21 days before those finalists are considered for the job.
Supporters say keeping applicants’ names secret, including from their current employer, will encourage more and better people to apply. Opponents, such as Florida’s First Amendment Foundation, counter that applicant pools are full of great candidates in the current open process and say the state needs more transparency for such high-profile hires, not less.