Brogan named finalist at FAU
Published: Wednesday, January 22, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 22, 2003 at 1:07 a.m.
BOCA RATON - As expected, Lt. Gov. Frank Brogan became one of five finalists Tuesday in Florida Atlantic University's search for a new president after a search committee eliminated 14 other applicants.
If Brogan succeeds in his quest to lead his alma mater, he will be the only Florida public university president with no doctorate and no college teaching experience.
But FAU trustee chairman George Zoley said Brogan, a former state education commissioner, brings other valuable experience.
"I think people are impressed that his entire professional career has been in education," Zoley said. "Those are very strong credentials."
Brogan, 49, earned his master's degree at Florida Atlantic 22 years ago. He was an elementary school teacher, principal, district superintendent and state education commissioner before becoming Jeb Bush's lieutenant governor. He was sworn in for a second term two weeks ago but has said he will resign if he gets the FAU job.
FAU began its search for a new leader last year after Anthony Catanese resigned July 1 to become president of Florida Institute of Technology, a private 4,500-student university in Melbourne.
Zoley announced in late November that the search process was moving too quickly and needed to be delayed. Soon after, Brogan expressed interest in the job.
Two of the finalists that were announced Tuesday had applied during the initial search process. They are Thomas Hanley, engineering dean at the University of Louisville, and Bruce Mallen, dean of FAU's school of business.
The other two finalists are Stanley Fish, liberal arts and sciences dean at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Gary Krahenbuhl, senior vice president of Arizona State University.
All four have doctorates and college teaching experience, as do the nine presidents at Florida's other public universities. Florida has 11 public universities, but FAU and the University of North Florida are both searching for new leaders.
Of the state's university leaders, only former House Speaker T.K. Wetherell at Florida State University brings significant political experience. Wetherell served in the Florida House from 1980 to 1992, but he also had a doctorate in education administration and taught at Bethune-Cookman College before returning to FSU, where he also played football.
FAU professor Fred Hoffman, who serves on FAU's board of trustees and on the search committee, say he and his colleagues have reservations about Brogan because of his lack of university experience.
"The faculty would in general, barring extreme circumstances, want to have someone who knows what we do in the classroom, having experienced it for him or herself. And Frank Brogan doesn't have that," Hoffman said. "His main experience that is relevant to us is just over the last eight years, and that is a relatively short time compared to the other people in the pool."
Hoffman, a professor since 1968 who has served under all four of FAU's presidents, said Catanese had the strongest academic background and also was the strongest leader.
Still, he said he hadn't ruled out Brogan and said he was looking forward to learning more about Brogan's plans for the university during interviews with the five candidates Thursday and Friday.
Trustee Sherry Plymale, who also serves on the search committee, said she was pleased so many qualified applicants applied.
"People said once Frank demonstrated an interest, no one else would apply. And I think the best thing is we proved that didn't happen," said Plymale, who served as Brogan's chief of staff from 1994 to 1999.
She said the five finalists brought "exemplary experience" but dismissed concerns about Brogan's lack of experience at the college level. She noted his leadership talent, passion for education, experience as commissioner and his long-standing commitment to FAU.
"I think a classroom in many ways is still a classroom," Plymale said. "He's just a teacher by profession."
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