Republican state Rep. Fred Hawkins has no experience in higher education. He didn’t meet the education requirements for the job, with only a bachelors degree in political science. He has no teaching experience. He was arrested for impersonating a law enforcement officer, a 3rd-degree felony, and subsequently suspended from office as a County Commissioner. He is now claiming to be the next President of South Florida State College.
Hawkins’ tweet was met with backlash from the public to which he responded with a meme.
All other highly qualified candidates, abruptly withdrew their applications after an April 17th meeting with the board of trustees.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, the three finalists — Amy Bosley, John M. Davis and Vicky Wood — had doctoral degrees and administrative experience at community colleges. Bosley is the vice president for institutional planning, development and chief of staff at Valencia College in Orlando; Davis is the vice president of administrative services at Germanna Community College in Locust Grove, Virginia, and Wood is the president of Washington State Community College in Marietta, Ohio.
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At the next board meeting, they voted to lower the education requirements for the job to allow those without a terminal degree to apply. Hawkins has not even begun masters level coursework, but states he plans to do so though an online program.
After the meeting, Louis Kirschner who serves on the board of trustees told Tampa Bay Times that he thought the 3 finalists that withdrew were pretty good, but they are registered Democrats. Kirschner also happens to be the chairperson of the DeSoto County Republican Executive Committee.
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“You have to understand that we are political appointees, and they were all Democrats,” Kirschner said of the three finalists. “The governor doesn’t appoint all Republican trustees and expect us to select a Democrat.”
Hawkins has done the bidding for DeSantis in the legislature. He sponsored the bill for DeSantis to take over Disney’s Reedy Creek special taxing district.
Likewise, another State Representative with no terminal degree, no experience in leading higher education, facing ethics charges from the state, and made millions through running casinos, is being pushed to be the next president of Florida Atlantic University. Republican State Rep. Randy Fine, like Hawkins, also sponsored a bill during a special session last year to dismantle Disney’s special taxing district. He told Disney, “this is what happens when you kick the hornets nest,” a quote Disney highlighted in their lawsuit against the state of Florida now.
After accusing Disney of being groomers, and “woke,” Fine was infamously captured on photo boarding a Disney cruise the following weekend.
Fine is currently a candidate for the Florida Senate, but has struggled to get almost any support from his district with over 90% of his funding coming from lobbyists and special interest groups from all over the country, but almost nothing from his constituents. Governor DeSantis is trying to force him out of the race and offering him the FAU position instead. Fine already has attracted another elected Republican to run against him in the primary.
Fine has stated he is strongly considering it. DeSantis-pushed candidates have enjoyed astronomical salaries at their new positions. Richard Cocoran, who was selected as the new President of New College is now the recipient of a base salary of $699,000 per year as president of the small liberal arts college. This does not include a tremendous housing allowance and other benefits.
In addition to his salary, Corcoran’s contract calls for a $104,850 retirement supplement, an annual performance bonus of up to $104,850, a housing stipend of $84,000 and a $12,000 car allowance.
New College had less than 700 students at the time of his hiring . It is reported that the school’s enrollment had dropped to just over 350 since then. Corcoran’s base salary is comparable to presidents’ pay at schools over 70 times the size of New College. It’s nearly $100,000 more than the president of UCF — a school with more than 100 times as many students. The previous president of the school’s salary was $305,000.
FAU has a student population 45 times that of New College. If Fine were to take the position, there’s no question he’d be asking for a base salary of over $1 million.