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Broward College launches search for new president

Students pose at their spring 2022 graduation from the associate degree program in nursing at Broward College.
Broward College
Students pose at their spring 2022 graduation from the associate degree program in nursing at Broward College.

Broward College has officially launched the search for its next president. It’s the latest Florida school in need of another top leader, at a time of turbulence and turnover among the state’s higher education executives.

With approximately 50,000 students and 4,000 faculty and staff, Broward College is among South Florida’s largest institutions of higher ed, offering two and four-year degrees, workforce training and continuing education across three primary campuses.

READ MORE: Broward College needs a new president - again

The presidential search comes as the college’s Board of Trustees is scrutinizing administrative oversight of spending and working to align the school’s operations with its core mission.

“We do not enjoy the luxury of time to wait another year or two to hire a president,” said Board Chair Alexis Yarbrough. “We need someone now.”

The school has been without a permanent president since last October, when then-President Gregory Haile abruptly resigned. Longtime BC administrator Barbara Bryan was named acting president, though she wasn’t the first choice.

The board’s top pick was Henry Mack III, a chancellor in Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Department of Education, but Mack dropped out hours after being tapped for the job.

Bryan’s six-month contract ended on April 3, after she announced she didn’t want to extend her employment.

Now longtime BC administrator Donald Astrab is serving as acting president, though he’s made clear he’s a “stopgap” and has no interest in applying for the permanent job.

A soft deadline of May 3

The job posting is now live and candidates have about a month to apply. For best consideration, applicants should submit their materials by May 3, 2024, but candidates who come in after that date may still be considered.

“We use the term ‘best consideration’ for this purpose — it’s not a hard deadline,” said Kenny Daugherty of the search firm Myers McRae, which was contracted by the college to oversee the job hunt.

“If on May the 4th a really good candidate comes in, that way you can consider them,” he told the board. “We want you to have the flexibility.”

The school plans to have the new president on the job beginning July 1, 2024, ahead of the fall semester.

Minimum requirements include:

  • A master’s degree from a regionally accredited institution, though preference will be given to candidates with an earned doctorate degree
  • 15 years of successful, senior-level administrative experience in higher education
  • An equivalent combination of education and executive-level experience may be alternatively considered

School officials want a high-level executive with “proven public institution experience to advance this college," according to the job posting.
“The College seeks a strategic visionary with the experience and ability to integrate with the external constituents of the college, e.g., the local business community and state government,” the job posting reads in part.

“They must inspire excellence in others and bring exceptional experience and enthusiasm for leadership within and beyond the walls of the college.”

An increasingly political job

In recent months and years, multiple conservative politicians have been tapped to lead the state’s public colleges and universities, over the protests of students, faculty and advocates.

Among the high profile presidential appointments that have drawn sharp criticism by the American Association of University Professors and others are former Florida Speaker of the House Richard Corcoran at New College and former U.S. Senator Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska) at the University of Florida.

Most recently, Tommy Gregory, who chairs the Florida House Judiciary Committee, was named the next president of State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota.

Yarbrough, the chair of the Broward College board, has acknowledged it’s a challenging time to be in the market for a new president.

A new state law requires that much of the process play out behind closed doors — keeping the public largely in the dark. And state officials have been strictly scrutinizing other searches for any perceived missteps.

The legal requirements governing the search are “incredibly technical and different than anywhere else in the country,” said Yarbrough. “Florida is a very unique landscape.”

“One mistake will make us start the whole process over,” Yarbrough said.

Kate Payne is WLRN's Education Reporter. Reach her at kpayne@wlrnnews.org
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