Former Senator Al Lawson eyeing FAMU presidency
Former state Sen. Al Lawson tells us that he will apply to become the next president at Florida A&M University. If he gets the job, he’ll add to the growing trend of politicians being hired to lead public universities.
Former Jacksonville mayor John Delaney is president of the University of North Florida. Frank Brogan stepped down as lieutenant governor to become president at Florida Atlantic University. Betty Castor served in the Florida Senate and on the Hillsborough County Commission before becoming president of the University of South Florida.
And it’s not just Florida. Former U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, a former governor, was named president of the 10-campus University of California system this summer.
Lawson, 65, is an alum of FAMU one of its most prominent advocates. In fact, the school’s gymnasium is named after him. In addition to serving 10 years in the Florida Senate, he ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2010 and 2012. He recently announced that he would not run again in 2014.
Lawson has a budding career as a lobbyist but said the bulk of his professional experience is as an insurance agent and broker.
He said he reached the decision to apply for the FAMU presidency just this week after being encouraged by others to apply. The school needs an apt fundraiser, who can help recruit students and has the connections among the elected officials who control the purse strings at the Capitol, he said.
“I don’t know anyone who can do that any better than I can,” Lawson said.