The Florida Atlantic University Presidential Search Committee recommended to the University’s Board of Trustees the following finalists for the presidency of the university (in alphabetical order). Notably absent from the list is State Representative Randy Fine.
- Vice Admiral Sean Buck is the Superintendent of the United States Naval Academy. Buck has served as Superintendent since 2019. Prior to his appointment, he was the Commander of the U.S. Fourth Fleet and U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command. Buck also served as the chief of staff of the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s Strategy, Plans and Policy Directorate in the Pentagon. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the United States Naval Academy and a master’s degree from George Washington University.
- Michael Hartline, Ph.D., is the dean of the College of Business at Florida State University. Hartline has served as the dean of the College of Business since 2016. During his time at Florida State University, Hartline has also served as the interim vice president for University Advancement, interim president of the Florida State University Foundation, interim executive vice president of the Florida State University Foundation, interim dean of the College of Business, and chair of the Department of Marketing. He earned a bachelor’s degree and an MBA from Jacksonville State University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Memphis.
- Jose Sartarelli, Ph.D., was the former Chancellor of the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Sartarelli served as Chancellor from 2015 until 2022. Before being appointed as Chancellor, he was the Milan Puskar Dean of the College of Business and Economics and chief global officer at West Virginia University. Sartarelli has also served as the company group chair of the Pharmaceutical Group for the Asia-Pacific, Japan, and Latin America divisions of Johnson & Johnson and president of Worldwide Medicines Group for the Latin America, Puerto Rico, and Canada divisions of Bristol-Myers Squibb. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Sao Paulo School of Business Administration, and an MBA and a Ph.D. from Michigan State University.
The committee then spent several weeks conducting confidential, in-person interviews with several semi-finalists before selecting the finalists today.
Since expressing interest in the position, and “being encouraged to apply” by Governor DeSantis himself for the position, Fine has faced many legal and ethical problems. He’s currently awaiting his punishment after being found to have violated state ethics laws for abuse of power and office by the Republican majority and DeSantis appointed members of the Florida Commission on Ethics. He also has ongoing new ethics violations being investigated now, and is currently under investigation for a potentially criminal ‘ghost candidate’ campaign from his previous election where he convinced an underage volunteer on his campaign to run as a write-in candidate in his own race.
Fine was reportedly encouraged to apply for the University President position in exchange for dropping out of his current campaign for Florida Senate, replacing termed-out Senator Debbie Mayfield. According to his own campaign finance reports, Fine’s campaign and PAC have raised a total of $0.00 since March 6, 2023. He’s found relatively zero support from his own district in his campaign, and has already drawn at least one primary challenger.
Fine was contacted by the Sun Sentinel today about his absence from the list of finalist.
“I’m in Ireland. I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t talk to the Sentinel,” he said before hanging up.
Fine’s own words on social media and the floor of the Florida House, have also been used against the State in court rulings blocking down recently signed laws by DeSantis, and by Disney’s lawsuit against the State.
According to text messages, Fine and his wife were recently booted from their local synagogue after threatening to “burn it to the ground” when staff refused to fire, at Fine’s direction, a teacher who is a member of the LGBTQ community. The Fine family subsequently demanded all of their contributions returned to them from over the years. (Separate story on this upcoming) F.A.U. is located in a largely populated Jewish community.
It’s still not a done deal however, as we recently learned with Representative Fred Hawkins’ selection to lead a college in Central Florida, after not appearing as a finalist, nor even meeting the state’s education requirements to be an elementary school principal. After intervention, all 3 finalists in that position (who were all democrats) suddenly dropped out leaving Hawkins as the only candidate after they changed the education requirements for the job.
The applicant pool for F.A.U. included 12 current or former university or system presidents, eight executive vice presidents, five provosts, and several vice presidents of health affairs and deans. Seven candidates were from member institutions of the prestigious Association of American Universities, and six were from Carnegie 1 Research Institutions. An array of senior leaders with non-academic backgrounds also applied.
It’s not clear if Fine actually applied as State law only requires the university to release the names of finalists, not all who apply. But Fine himself, who has a history of exaggerating, stated he did apply and was seeking compensation of nearly $1.5 million annually. Regardless of who the final candidate is, they still have to be confirmed by the Florida Board of Governors.