Senate Bill 520 Enables Academic Corruption – The Oracle

A new bill closes the selection process for university presidents and opens up more opportunities for corruption. FLICKR/STEVEN MARTIN

Sadly, Senate Bill 520 was approved by the Florida Senate last Thursday. This bill states that presidents of Florida universities must be selected through a closed process, which means that none of the records or information is open to the public.

Senate Bill 520 is a gateway to corruption in Florida universities and should not have been passed.

He says information about the candidates for university president and the selection process will be kept secret until the pool of candidates is narrowed down to three finalists.

If this were to become law, these searches would be exempt from Florida’s law of the sunwhich ensures that any official activity conducted by any state agency, including a university, is a public record.

This law ensures that the public is informed about what is happening in their state government, and there is no reason for college presidential elections to be an exception to this rule.

Senate Bill 520 will open the door to political corruption within universities. In fact, this type of corruption has already been observed during the recent selection process for the next FSU president. Florida Commissioner of Education, Richard Corcoran application for the position can be found online.

Although Corcoran is not the only candidate with a political background, his candidacy was of particular concern because he has a voting position on the Florida Board of Governors (BOG). The BOG is responsible for confirming the new president.

His candidacy was a conflict of interest and he should never have been in the running. It was only after heavy criticism from the public and the Accreditation Board that Corcoran was removed from the applicant pool.

If this happened in public view, it is no exaggeration to say that corruption would likely worsen if this process were kept secret.

It’s best to allow the audience to see the entire process so that there’s little chance of it happening in the first place. This is the best way to hold legislators accountable and honest.

Proponents of the bill believe it will broaden the pool of candidates, according to a Jan. 27 meeting of the Florida Senate Rules Committee. Apparently, this will attract candidates who would not otherwise apply for fear of losing their current job if their employer finds out.

There is no evidence that this has been a significant issue, and it is absurd to believe that a closed election will suddenly bring out the best, most qualified candidates. Even if a few potential candidates hesitate, it is certainly not worth compromising the integrity and transparency of the selection process.

Senate Bill 520 puts the comfort of potential future applicants above the welfare of actual university students and staff and completely ignores one of Florida’s most important laws.

Norman D. Briggs