Over the weekend, the search for Florida Atlantic University’s next president has become a top political story in Florida.First came news that Florida’s CFO Jeff Atwater told his senior staff of his intention to seek the job. Almost immediately after, Governor Rick Scott seemed to endorse Atwater’s candidacy with a very glowing statement.
Support from Scott and a number of education leaders makes it fair to say that Atwater is the top contender for the job, but now sources say that former U.S. Senator George LeMieux may throw his hat into the ring before the Monday cut-off date.
LeMieux, the former chief of staff and close advisor to former Republican-turned-Independent-
Back when LeMieux was running for the U.S. Senate, LeMieux stated on Tampa Bay’s Bay News 9, that he ‘strongly’ supported raising tuitions. LeMieux’s former boss, Charlie Crist, also supported raising tuitions, but did so with caution.
In May 2013, Gov. Rick Scott, who has made education and the costs related to it one of his top priorities as governor, vetoed a 3 percent increase in Florida college tuition from the annual state budget. He explained that he believed the increase was nothing more than a “tax” on Florida’s middle-class families. With election year underway, Scott can’t afford the political fallout of supporting a millionaire lawyer for university president who says that families with kids in college need to pay more.
“The tuition at our universities is way too low. We are the cheapest university tuition system in the country. I send my 4-year-old to Christian school (and) I pay more for him to go to Christian school for a year than kids (spend) for the University of Florida for a year. You’re going to only get what you pay for,” LeMieux said in the interview airing at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. “We’ve got a lot of great people in our university system. They need to be properly funded. … We’re the fourth-biggest population, soon to be third. We don’t have a public university in the top 50. If we’re going to create great jobs in this state, we need better education.”–Former Senator George LeMieux (TB Times)