In a letter dated July 22 from the Board of Governors, BOG Director of Communications Bill Edmonds responded to a letter sent to Governor Charlie Crist from UFF-FAU President James Tracy on June 18. Tracy brought to Governor Crist’s attention the abrupt termination of five tenured faculty members in FAU’s College of Engineering and Computer Science. “Governor Crist asked our office to get back in touch with you,” Edmunds wrote. “You raise some serious issues regarding the long-term strength of the university.” But to resolve the issue Edmonds informed Tracy that the BOG will direct the letter to Chairperson Sheila M. McDevitt and the very individual on whose watch the layoff boondoggle transpired: FAU President and incoming Chancellor Frank T. Brogan. One must conclude that something is seriously awry when the same man who so gravely violated the academic profession’s most revered protocols is called upon to address those very offenses. A sequence such as this would be considered absurd in many states. However, in Florida it’s par for the course, illustrating the not-so-subtle political underpinnings of higher education governance in this state.
Brogan’s appointment to oversee the BOG, a body proposed by former Florida Democratic Governor and US Senator Bob Graham to temper the wild-eyed “reform” of Florida’s higher education system advocated by Brogan’s close political associate Jeb Bush, is a slap in the face to the faculty of the entire SUS. While we are not holding our breath, UFF-FAU is curious to know how Brogan will proceed to reprimand himself, or if he will again cavalierly dismiss the concerns articulated by UFF-FAU, FAU’s Faculty Senate, and now the the American Association of University Professors.
Moreover, one has to call into serious question the integrity of a system that rewards malfeasance with even loftier and more powerful positions. At FAU, as at Florida’s other state universities, the Board of Trustees is a powerful (perhaps too powerful) body, yet it oddly stood by and condoned Brogan’s missteps while reserving its greatest contempt for the professoriate through continually depressed salaries and this spring’s no-holds-barred assault on tenure. Florida’s working citizens, who for many years have bankrolled Frank Brogan’s six-figure salaries and depend on the SUS for the education of their children and grandchildren, should call for the immediate reform of its governance, which would begin with its thorough depoliticization. At present, the BOG and BOTs appear to be merely avenues for demonstrating loyalty to GOP power brokers. In the process the universities they oversee continue their long decline toward sub-mediocrity.
New university chancellor Frank Brogan to investigate himself? Not gonna happen, Palm Beach Post, Monday, August 3, 2009. Read story at palmbeachpost.com