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Bill Would Allow Universities To Conduct Searches Behind Closed Doors

A Florida lawmaker wants to grant universities more secrecy when they choose a new president, provost or dean.

Senator Alan Hays says university presidential searches should be exempt from public records law. Supporters say current rules might scare off top candidates because they don’t want their current employers to know they’re looking for a new job.Florida universities would have to release a list of final candidates. And the public would have at least ten days to review those candidates before the university could vote.

When Florida State University selected former state Senator John Thrasher as president earlier this year, students and staff spent months opposing the choice. They saw his candidacy as a thank-you gift to an influential politician.

A consultant’s email that said the university was trying to - quote unquote concoct - a process to choose Thrasher boosted those claims.

Hays’ bill would have shielded those emails.