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AAUP President Calls for Transparency in Florida

By Kelly Hand

AAUP president Irene Mulvey raised concerns in January about transparency in the University of Florida’s presidential search, slated to begin in March. The state legislature was then considering and has since passed a bill, Senate Bill 520, that enables closed, secretive searches for presidents at any state university or Florida College System institution by providing exemptions from public-records requirements for identifying information about applicants and public-meetings requirements for candidates. Such exemptions run contrary to the principles the AAUP outlined in the 2015 Statement on Presidential Searches, which emphasizes faculty involvement throughout the search process and opportunities for finalists to meet publicly with faculty members and the campus community. The bill’s provisions could jeopardize the transparency of the UF search and other searches at public colleges and universities in the state.

UF administrators attempted in fall 2021 to block three faculty members from providing expert testimony in a state voting rights case, apparently for political reasons. Noting this and other partisan threats to academic freedom documented by a subcommittee of the UF faculty senate, Mulvey urged the university’s board of trustees to ensure that the search for a new president will be open and conducted in a manner consistent with AAUP-recommended guidelines and the public’s interest in higher education as a common good.

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