The University of West Florida Faculty Senate, wanting the school’s next president to have higher-education leadership experience, voted 12-5, with two members abstaining, late Friday to oppose the selection of influential state Sen. Don Gaetz as president of the university.
Gaetz, a current state senator and former healthcare executive, holds a bachelor’s degree in religion and political science from Concordia College and a master’s degree in public administration from Troy State University.
“The UWF Faculty Senate is resolved that statements made by candidate Don Gaetz in his initial interview, combined with his past political and professional positions and actions, are incompatible with the academic mission and educational initiatives of UWF,” the Senate stated in its resolution opposing Gaetz.
The resolution continued, “Consequently, the Faculty Senate does not support Don Gaetz’s candidate for president of UWF and strongly recommends that the Presidential Search Committee and the UWF Board of Trustees select a university president from the pool of other highly qualified finalists.”
Gaetz is a finalist along with UWF Provost and Executive Vice President Dr. Martha Saunders, The College Board Senior Vice President Dr. Frank Ashley, and University of Akron Vice President of Innovation and Economic Development Dr. Mike Sherman.
The four — chosen by a 20-member search committee — have been invited to take part in on-campus interviews next week. A schedule of those interviews, which are open to the public under Florida’s sunshine law, is available on UWF’s website. The search committee will then reconvene Thursday morning to recommend at least three of the four finalists to the university’s Board of Trustees.
The candidate chosen by the board of trustees on Sept. 15 will the next president of the University of West Florida.