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Broward College President tenders resignation, but the board wants him to stay

Gregory Haile

Broward College President Gregory Haile abruptly resigned this week in the latest high profile departure from Florida’s public colleges and universities.

Haile's resignation comes at a time when Gov. Ron DeSantis has been exerting more conservative influence over schools.

But Broward College's Board of Trustees is apparently not ready to let Haile leave.

The board held an emergency meetingThursday and voted to continue talks with Haile instead of formally accepting his resignation and appointing an interim acting president. Haile was not present at the meeting. He penned his resignation letter on Wednesday night.

A spokesperson for Broward College said in a statement that the board is hoping to “further explore the concerns that led to President Haile’s decision” and that Haile remains in his role at this time.

“We have heard the thoughts and concerns of community members today, and we intend to do everything we can to engage President Haile in an open dialog about his decision to resign, and then to determine the best next steps to advance the College’s mission to transform the lives of students through quality, affordable education,” Board of Trustees Chair Alexis Yarbrough said in a written statement.

Haile’s resignation announcement comes after the Florida governor appointed three new members to the Broward College Board of Trustees last February, which Haile referred to in his letter of resignation on Wednesday.

“Three board members were appointed in the last six months, and the board as a whole is new, with no board member yet to have served a full term,” Haile wrote. “While you have not requested such a transition, the time is now.”

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Haile was unanimously appointed by the Board of Trustees in 2018 to serve as the college’s seventh president, after serving as the school’s general counsel and vice president for public policy and government affairs. Haile is a first-generation college graduate, who received his undergraduate degree from Arizona State University and his Juris Doctor from Columbia University School of Law. He has since taught at Harvard University, Miami Dade College and Broward College.

Broward College, which is the fourth-largest community college in the nation, serves more than 55,000 students. Haile was the first public college president to serve as deputy chair of the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank, a position he assumed in January of this year. The institution was recognized as a top 10 finalist for the Aspen Institute’s Prize for Community College Excellence three times since Haile has served as president, according to college press releases.

Former Democratic State Sen. Perry Thurston Jr. told the Miami Herald that the college “can’t afford to lose Haile.”

This potential departure at Broward College follows a string of debates and tension over new, more conservative leadership recommended and appointed by DeSantis across several Florida schools.

In January, the governor appointed six conservative members to the Board of Trustees at the New College of Florida, which had been known for its uniquely self-directed curriculum and its self-described free thinkers. The new board subsequently fired then-President Patricia Okker and replaced her with Richard Corcoran, an ally of the governor who previously served as the state’s education commissioner and as Speaker of the House.

More recently, Florida Atlantic University’s presidential search was suspended by state officials after a DeSantis-backed candidate didn’t make the list of finalists. It’s been more than two months since the school’s presidential search was left hanging in limbo. Last week, state officials voted to ask Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody to weigh in on whether the search process aligned with state law.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Kate Payne is WLRN's Education Reporter. Reach her at kpayne@wlrnnews.org
Julia Cooper reports on all things Florida Keys and South Dade for WLRN.
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