FSU Blindsided by President's Departure

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. Florida State University will begin searching for a new president later this week. Eric Barron, who has had the job since 2010, was offered the job at Penn State Monday.

Barron was recommended by a secret selection process, and now Florida lawmakers want more secrecy in hiring University Presidents in Florida.

Trustees at Florida State first heard President Eric Barron had applied for and was being recommended for the top job at Penn State from reporters on Friday. Here in Florida, state law requires such searches open to the public.

FSU Trustee Mark Hillis says the secrecy has kept some of the best talent from applying in Florida. People won’t put their name in the hat to accept the position because they are concerned about losing their job, or it affecting their job.”

While the law requires openness, some searches are already circumvented the process. The search committee at FAMU met with chosen applicants before they applied.

Committee Chair Ken white says more secrecy would have been helpful. “By applying, you certainly suggest you might want to be elsewhere. And I find boards tend to help you do that.”

But public records advocate Barbara Peterson questions the need for secrecy. “This bill kind of presumes that all of the University Presidents and deans that have been hired in the last forty years weren’t the best and the brightest we could get.”

State Representative Dave Kerner says his legislation actually requires records on finalists be open 21 days before a selection is made. The FAMU finalists were known for just a week before the decision was made.

The legislation failed last year, but has already cleared one committee so far this year this year.

Meanwhile the FSU Board of Trsutees has scheduled an emergency meeting for 11:30 Wednesday morning to begin the selection process of to find President Barron's replacement

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