The University of Florida will begin searching for its next president in March, the school’s board of trustees announced Monday.
Board chairperson Mori Hosseini and vice chairperson Tom Kuntz were reelected for second terms to oversee the search. Both are former members of the state Board of Governors, which oversees the State University System. Hosseini said choosing a president is the trustees’ most important task.
A 15-member search committee will be named in March, and Hosseini said the panel will have big shoes to fill with the departure of president Kent Fuchs, who will remain in the job until a successor takes over. Fuchs announced at the beginning of the year he would be stepping down to become a professor, a decision he said he made last fall.
“He has done such great work and has earned the right to transition to the job he loves the most,” Hosseini said.
The search comes following a semester of tumult between university administration and faculty after a controversy over academic freedom led to a federal lawsuit, an accreditation investigation and a congressional inquiry.
Four of Florida’s 12 public universities are searching for new presidents, and a bill is moving quickly through the Legislature that would allow the names of candidates to remain private until late stages of the process. The bill is supported by many members of the Board of Governors and search firms who see it as a way to attract better candidates who may fear retaliation in their current jobs for looking elsewhere.
The legislation has many critics among faculty and academic groups who see it as a way to limit public input and pave the way for politically connected applicants.
The bill is on the Senate calendar for second reading after passing in the education, governmental oversight and accountability, and rules committees. The House version was referred to government operations subcommittee on Jan. 20.