The Florida Board of Governors voted Friday to ask the state attorney general to weigh in on the Florida Atlantic University presidential search, which has been suspended for alleged anomalies.
The board voted to seek a legal opinion on the use of a preference survey or straw poll, used to rank candidates. The survey, as well as a questionnaire that asked demographic information of candidates, which has became a source of controversy, was conducted by AGB Search, the firm hired to find FAU’s next president.
Specifically, the board is asking the attorney general to weigh in on whether the use of the preference survey failed to comply with state public records laws, according to a description of the agenda item in board documents.
The move comes amid growing concern about political influence and interference in Florida presidential searches. Republican politicians have been hired in executive roles at the University of Florida, New College of Florida and South Florida State College, and Governor Ron DeSantis was pushing Randy Fine, a state Republican lawmaker, for the FAU job.
The FAU search was suspended shortly after three finalists, excluding Fine, were named in July.
State University System chancellor Ray Rodrigues, a DeSantis ally and former GOP lawmaker, has raised concerns about the use of the preference survey in FAU’s search as well as a questionnaire used to collect demographic information on candidates, which asked questions about gender identity and sexual orientation. University officials and AGB Search have both defended the integrity of the search.