The St. Petersburg College Board Of Trustees will not require its next president to have a Ph.D. or previous education experience, board members said Friday.
Trustees instead said the college's next leader must have the equivalent of five years of leadership in higher education. The word "equivalent" would allow public school superintendents and business and political leaders to apply, trustees said.
The decision, which followed the recommendation of the board's search consultant, also means St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker could seek the job if he chooses.
Carl Kuttler, 69, announced he was resigning in July after 31 years as St. Petersburg College president.
He has said Baker would make a good replacement, and Baker has said he is interested in the job.
Baker was not mentioned as the trustees deliberated for 90 minutes Friday.
Only trustee Ken Burke — who previously has said Baker is not qualified to lead St. Petersburg College — supported a provision requiring education experience.
"Maybe I'm old fashioned – I think a person should know their product," Burke said. Later, Burke said hiring someone without higher education experience would be a "tremendous morale buster for our faculty."
Burke, a Republican appointed to the board by former Gov. Jeb Bush, said he will not support someone without an educational background. College faculty members also have said they preferred a president with an academic Ph.D. or doctorate and education experience.
Baker has a doctorate in law. He has no official experience working in higher education.
Search consultant Jeff Hockaday said law degrees are generally considered sufficient for hiring a president.
But in all of his 72 previous presidential searches, Hockaday said the person ultimately selected had education experience.
Trustee W. Richard Johnston advocated broadening the search beyond only educational experience.
"I don't want to limit the search in any way possible," Johnston said. "I'm afraid we might exclude somebody we see as a good president."
Four of the college's five trustees attended Friday's meeting. Trustee Deveron Gibbons said he will not participate in the selection process because of his personal relationship with Baker.
Trustees will form a 13-member search committee to review applications. Burke and Johnston will serve along with three faculty members, one student, and one administrator, among others. Each of the four trustees also will select a member.
The committee will recommend finalists to the trustees, who will make the ultimate decision.
College officials plan to begin advertising next week. Hockaday, the search consultant, said he expects roughly 40 applicants, and believes the college could select a new leader by spring.