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DeSantis signs bill to shield disclosure of university president candidates

The bill, which creates a public records exemption, takes effect immediately.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, left, addresses the audience along with Speaker of the House Chris Sprowls at St. Petersburg Collegiate High School on  March 15 in St. Petersburg.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, left, addresses the audience along with Speaker of the House Chris Sprowls at St. Petersburg Collegiate High School on March 15 in St. Petersburg. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Mar. 16, 2022|Updated Mar. 16, 2022

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday signed a bill that will shield from disclosure information about applicants to become presidents of state colleges and universities.

The bill (SB 520) creates a public records exemption for identifying information about applicants for the leadership posts.

Information about finalists will be released near the end of search processes.

The bill passed during the legislative session that ended Monday, with supporters saying it will help attract top-notch candidates to become college and university presidents. They contended that some candidates might be hesitant to apply if their current employers could find out.

But opponents of the bill said it goes against Florida’s history of open government and could benefit politically connected candidates.

Related: Faculty groups blast Florida bill to make presidential searches more secret

The bill takes effect immediately and comes as the University of South Florida, the University of North Florida, the University of Florida, Florida International University and Florida Gulf Coast University are in various stages of looking for new presidents.

Related: Here's what happens next in USF's search for a new president

The House voted 86-26 to approve the measure this month, after the Senate passed it in a 28-11 vote.

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