Professor has own ideas for UF's oversight board


Published: Monday, January 6, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 5, 2003 at 11:35 p.m.
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University of Florida Professor Richard Briggs expects to be the lone voice of opposition to the newly created Board of Governors, a statewide oversight board for public universities which meets for the first time Tuesday. Briggs will have a seat on the 17-member board by virtue of his position as chair of the Advisory Council of Faculty Senates. The statewide Board of Governors, championed by U.S. Senator Bob Graham, was approved by voters with the passage of Constitutional Amendment 11 in 2002.

Photo by Rob C. Witzel / The Gainesville Sun
University of Florida Professor Richard Briggs is warming up his vocal cords to be the lone voice of opposition.
That's what he's anticipating his role will be on the newly formed Board of Governors, which meets for the first time Tuesday in Tallahassee.
The 17-member university oversight board was put in place by voters in November, who voted for a centralized authority to oversee the state's universities over the objections of the very people Gov. Jeb Bush appointed to fill most of the new board's seats.
Bush, who led the charge in 2000 to ditch a similar board, the Board of Regents, appointed a member from each of the university boards of trustees, many of which publicly opposed the amendment at his urging. Burger King CEO John Dasburg was selected from UF's board.
Bush also tapped Carolyn Roberts of Ocala, the Florida Board of Education member who formed a Political Action Committee to try and derail the amendment championed by U.S. Sen. Bob Graham.
"Considering the fact that he chose the very people who led the organized opposition to the board," Briggs said, "I think there's very little chance they will make an effort to implement it quickly and effectively."
The amendment didn't give Bush total control over the new board, specifying that two of the 17 seats be allotted to a faculty member and a student - more specifically, the chairman of the Advisory Council of Faculty Senates - Briggs - and the chairman of the Florida Student Association.
Briggs, a 61-year-old radiology research professor and one of Graham's chief lieutenants in promoting Amendment 11, said he's looking forward to his role.
"My job will be to see that important issues are raised in as public a way as possible in these meetings," he said.
For instance, first up for the board, and for Briggs, on Tuesday is making appointments to the 11 university boards of trustees. It is widely believed that Bush has or will urge the Board of Governors to reappoint the current trustees, whom he selected less than two years ago.
Briggs said he has other ideas and plans to bring forward at least a few new names for UF's board that were suggested to Bush in June of 2000 but not selected.
The next order of business for the board will be drawing the lines of power between the statewide board, which constitutionally holds all authority over the state's universities, and the university boards of trustees.
There is wide speculation that the Board of Governors, which was almost entirely drawn from university trustees, will delegate most if not all of its authority to those boards.
Briggs said he didn't want to prejudge the actions of the board, noting that "most boards and most individuals for that matter try to accrue as much power as they can."
"It would be helpful to have the statewide board coordinating budgets for all the universities, which is a much more logical and sensible approach and one that is much less a free-for-all in the halls of Tallahassee."
Roberts, the new governor who formed the PAC against Amendment 11, also said she doesn't want to speak for the board before it meets.
"Personally, I do think it's important that we have strong boards of trustees, and I want to work in that direction."
She declined to comment about Bush's decision to appoint opponents of the Board of Governors concept as its members.
"My appointment to the board has nothing to do with Amendment 11," said Roberts, a former member and chairwoman of the Board of Regents. "My appointment is about my interest and concern for higher education."
Not everyone is expecting the Board of Governors to divest itself of power.
Frederick Hoffman, Florida Atlantic University math professor and representative on the Advisory Council of Faculty Senates, said he thinks the Board of Governors may keep hold of the reins when it comes to presidential salaries and possibly tuition.
"I don't think that as much power is going to devolve to local boards as some people think," Hoffman said.
"When Bush says local control, I'm pretty sure he means in his office," Hoffman said jokingly.
Carrie Miller can be reached at 338-3103 or millerc@gvillesun.com

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