When state Sen. Don Gaetz visits the University of West Florida in hopes of landing its presidential gig, it won’t be on entirely friendly territory. There’s a considerable camp who do not want him there.
Since his last minute dip into the presidential applicant pool, the retiring Northwest Florida legislator has raised eyebrows from critics who have questioned his lack of academic pedigree, as well as his personal and political ties to members of both the UWF Board of Trustees and its presidential search committee. Those concerns were formalized Friday, when the UWF Faculty Senate passed a resolution in opposition to Gaetz’s candidacy.
The resolution reads in part: “Following the initial interviews of presidential candidates on August 29-31, 2016, and the background reference checks conducted by Greenwood-Asher prior to the September 6, 2016 Presidential Search Committee meeting, the UWF Faculty Senate is resolved that statements made by candidate Don Gaetz in his initial interview, combined with his past political and professional positions and actions, are incompatible with the academic mission and educational initiatives of UWF.
Consequently, the Faculty Senate does not support Don Gaetz’s candidate for president of UWF and strongly recommends that the Presidential Search Committee and the UWF Board of Trustees select a university president from the pool of other highly qualified finalists.”
All four final candidates will spend time this week meeting with the board of trustees and other campus representatives. They tour the campus, eat a meal and sit for an open forum for faculty, staff and students.
Gaetz’s campus visit begins with lunch Sept. 12 with retiring UWF President Judy Bense and her staff. His open forum starts at 12:30 p.m. in the UWF Conference Center (building 22), and from there he takes a tour of campus and enjoys a meet and greet social this evening in downtown Pensacola.
The other three candidates — UWF Provost Martha Saunders, as well as Dr. Frank Ashley and Dr. Mike Sherman — will enjoy a similar experience this week. By Thursday morning, the board of trustees will be ready to make a decision, selecting UWF’s next president.
To view videos of Gaetz’s interview with UWF’s presidential search committee, click here.