BOCA RATON, Fla. — The fall semester is underway at Florida Atlantic University still without a permanent leader and now the faculty wants something done.
The school's presidential search process was stalled indefinitely in July as the state investigates what it called "anomalies" in the search process.
Now the University Faculty Senate wants some consistency in the administration. They want interim president Dr. Stacy Volnick, who has been serving in the role since late last year, to become the university’s permanent leader after months of uncertainly with how and when the presidential search process would move forward.
Volnick has been part of the university's administration since 1991 and received her bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees all from FAU.
During a discussion about the presidential search during Monday's University Faculty Senate meeting, Professor Nicole Morse recommended Volnick be offered a contract to serve a longer term as president instead of interim president. The group voted almost unanimously to recommend to the Board of Trustees to explore extending a multi-year contract for Volnick to become president.
"It was a very strong endorsement from the faculty," Morse told WPTV Education Reporter Stephanie Susskind. "I think the reason for that is we know Dr. Volnick, we know her leadership, she has been dedicated to FAU for many years."
The State Board of Governors would have to affirm the Board of Trustees decision, if they move forward with the recommendation.
"There has been a lot of negative attention brought on the university and this gives us stability, a way forward," one faculty member said during the meeting. "I think for the next three years that would be an awesome solution."
Students, faculty and the community have been in limbo for months, not knowing who would be next to lead the university. Days after FAU named three outside finalists for the president position in July, the State University System of Florida Board of Governors stopped the process. The chancellor cited "anomalies" in the search and launched an investigation. WPTV reached out to their office for an update on that investigation but have not yet received a response.
"It’s difficult to move forward on projects when you don’t know who the leadership is going to be," United Faculty of Florida FAU Vice President Chris Robe said of the situation. "People are second guessing stuff and it’s just not healthy for a university."
United Faculty of Florida FAU president Dawn Rothe said she was pleased when the topic came up and the motion was made.
"She is very well positioned to carry us through the years moving forward so I personally was very, very pleased," Rothe said. "Stability is essential right now, especially as we continue to expand upwards with our trajectory and our student enrollment this year was at an all time high."
Jodie Boisvert is getting her doctoral degree at FAU right now. She said the presidential search has been "a little chaotic" but is also thinks Volnick is good choice for president.
"We don’t know where we stand, we don’t know what’s coming next, we don’t know when it’s coming. We’ve been kind of a political pawn since the presidential search started," Boisvert said. "I would be honored to have her as president, because she’s an advocate for student voices, which I think we really need on the campus."
In a statement, Volnick said: "I'm grateful for the confidence shown by Faculty Senate. My focus remains on the day-to-day operations of the university and the success of our students."
It's not clear yet if or when the Board of Trustees may take up the proposal, but their next meeting is set for Sept. 26.