Gainesville Sun by Judith Wilde
February 23, 2021
Florida is the “sunshine state” in more ways than one. Its Government-in-the-Sunshine Law, enacted in 1967, is among the most sweeping in the country and has long required the publication of the names of candidates for leadership positions at the state’s public universities.
Over the years there have been attempts to amend the law to keep final candidates’ names from the public. Now there is another such attempt, this time by Sen. Jeff Brandes, sponsor of SB 220.
According to a report in The Sun, the bill is “aimed at attracting ‘the broadest pool of applicants’ for the jobs.” The argument, according to the report, is that “it would help attract more applicants who might be hesitant to put themselves up for consideration because of concerns about jeopardizing their current positions if it became known they were applying.”
I have studied public universities’ use of executive search firms in hiring presidents, chancellors and provosts for nearly a decade. I can say with a high degree of confidence, supported by data, that there is no empirical evidence to support this claim.
First, according to data from the American Council on Education, fewer than 25% of university presidents hired in any given year come to their positions from another presidency. The vast majority of new presidents were previously provosts, vice presidents or deans. Thus the argument that applicants are worried that they might lose their jobs if it became known that they were in the job market just doesn’t hold.