TALLAHASSEE — The search for a new chancellor got a frontrunner Thursday when former education commissioner and Lt. Gov. Frank Brogan applied to lead Florida's state university system.
The Florida Atlantic University president was one of three new applicants to emerge for the position, which will be decided next week.
In a letter to the FAU faculty, staff and student body, Brogan confirmed his plans to seek the politically charged post — ending weeks of speculation about his interest in the job.
"Only after much reflection and discussion with my family did I decide to pursue the opportunity," wrote Brogan, 55 and married with a young son. "It is another way for me to continue my dedication to education should I be selected to serve."
Brogan is one of 13 candidates, with a few notables, including former Ohio university system chancellor Roderick G.W. Chu. Florida State University associate professor and former law school administrator Steve MacNamara, a Capitol veteran who was chief of staff to former House Speaker John Thrasher, also is in the mix.
Some university system officials say Brogan, a Republican known for his affability and sense of humor, might offer the strongest mix of political savvy and academic experience to a university system seeking better relations with the Legislature.
Brogan worked as a teacher, principal and superintendent in Martin County schools before he was elected education commissioner in 1994. He ran on the gubernatorial ticket with Jeb Bush in 1998 and served as lieutenant governor until 2003, when he got the FAU job.
"Based on what (candidates) we have so far, I would have to say Frank is certainly in the top tier," said Sheila McDevitt, chairwoman of the Board of Governors that oversees the 11 state universities.
Brogan earned his bachelor's degree in education from the University of Cincinnati in 1976 and his master's degree from FAU in 1981. He is the only candidate without a doctoral degree. A Ph.D. is not a requirement, though some board members have said it is preferred.
"He's run a major research university for six years, so regardless of whether he has that degree or not, he certainly has made up for it in his experience," McDevitt said.
FAU's trustees have generally praised Brogan and voted in September to raise his salary by 10 percent and extend his contract through 2015. But an anonymous survey of less than 10 percent of FAU's full-time faculty members gave Brogan mediocre reviews.
The committee leading the chancellor search will review the applicants during a conference call Monday and narrow the field. The finalists will be interviewed on July 17 in Tampa; the chancellor will be named that afternoon.