Some UF Supporters Worry Gov. Rick Scott Crossed Line to Keep President Bernie Machen

Tia Mitchell | Staff Reporter, January 12, 2013, Tampa Bay Times

TALLAHASSEE — News that Bernie Machen will remain president of the University of Florida has been widely regarded as a positive step for the school yearning for higher national prominence.

But some UF supporters and observers say they are concerned lines may have been crossed in persuading Machen, 68, to postpone his retirement.

Gov. Rick Scott and UF board of trustees chairman David Brown made the joint announcement Tuesday and Scott’s statement indicated he had actively helped keep Machen at UF.

“I have asked him to continue his service as president, and I look forward to working with him, the Board of Governors and the board of trustees on this effort to realize a new vision for higher education in Florida,” Scott said.

That left some wondering whether the governor overstepped his authority. Hiring and firing university presidents is the role of each school’s board of trustees. The state’s Board of Governors signs off on hires and reappointments. Scott selects Board of Governors members.

“It seems to me to be rather odd and unusual that the governor would take a direct role of this sort in a search for a university president that is traditionally the province of the board of trustees and the faculty,” said John Biro, president of UF’s faculty union chapter.

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The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily the positions of UFF-UF.