Broward College president Greg Haile resigned abruptly Wednesday night, offering little indication as to why he was leaving after five years on the job, The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported.
“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. While you have not requested such a transition, the time is now,” Haile wrote in a resignation letter obtained by the newspaper.
He added that the letter would serve as his 120-day notice of the termination of his employment agreement.
The move appeared to come as a shock to the Board of Trustees, which held an emergency meeting Thursday. Rather than accept his resignation, the board voted to continue talks with Haile in an effort to persuade him to stay. The board reinforced that message in a statement after the meeting, with the chair noting, “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.”
Haile got his start at Broward College in 2011 as general counsel and vice president of public policy and government affairs. He was elevated to president in 2018. Previously, he served a six-year stint at Harvard University, where he taught higher education law and policy.
The resignation comes as Republican Florida governor Ron DeSantis is seeking greater control over higher education, introducing sweeping changes that restrict instruction on certain topics, undercut tenure provisions and, critics argue, erode academic freedom.
College presidencies have become increasingly political in Florida. In recent months, Republican lawmakers have emerged as finalists in executive searches or been hired into those positions; U.S. senator Ben Sasse was hired as president of the University of Florida, followed by former state lawmaker Richard Corcoran, who stepped into the role of interim president at New College of Florida. Most recently, Fred Hawkins, another legislator and DeSantis ally, was named president of South Florida State College.