TALLAHASSEE — Prominent Florida businessman Marshall Criser III is making the transition to a job that speaks to his passion: higher education.
The Board of Governors on Wednesday unanimously approved Criser as the next state university system chancellor. He starts Jan. 6.
After the vote, Criser, 55, addressed the board and outlined his vision for the 12 public universities he will oversee. He said he will build on the foundation created by Frank Brogan, who stepped down as chancellor in September to take a similar job in Pennsylvania.
"It is incredible to me the team that is a part of this Board of Governors and the professionals that are there, the competence that is there, and the day-in-and-day-out commitment that they make to our state that make this something that is incredibly attractive to me," Criser said of the job.
He wants to highlight the value of the state's higher education system by holding universities responsible for achieving new benchmarks and goals. He also wants to share success stories with Florida families and taxpayers to prove their money is well spent.
Although his salary will be negotiated, the board authorized a match to what Brogan earned: $357,000 a year.
Criser and his wife, Kimberly, have four daughters; the family will be moving to Tallahassee from Miami. He will resign from his position as president of AT&T Florida, a company he has worked for his entire professional career.
Gov. Rick Scott, Senate President Don Gaetz and House Speaker Will Weatherford were among those sending congratulatory statements after the vote.
"During Marshall's time as president of AT&T Florida, he demonstrated leadership that will help our students succeed as we work to increase the value in our higher education system," Scott said in a news release. "Marshall's background of job creation will provide the vision needed in enhancing our universities' effectiveness in preparing our students for great careers."
Although he doesn't have an advanced degree and has never worked in education, Criser won the support of the Board of Governors, university presidents and faculty during the six-week search process.
Criser is vice chairman of his alma mater University of Florida's Board of Trustees, although he now will have to step down from that panel. He may remain a member of the state's Higher Education Coordinating Council, but not as a representative of the business community.
He is also a member of the Scripps Research Institute board, the Florida Council of 100, the Chamber of Commerce board and the Miami Dade College Foundation board. It is not clear how his new job will affect those roles.
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