SCF trustees to hear from Chancellor's office on president search

kbergen@bradenton.comNovember 3, 2012 

BRADENTON -- With former president Lars Hafner gone and acting president Jack Crocker planning a sudden exit in January, the State College of Florida trustees have many decisions tomake concerning the leadership of the college.

Board Chairman Carlos Beruff reached out to Division of Florida Colleges Chancellor Randy Hanna this week to schedule a time for Hanna to explain to trustees their options for finding both interim and permanent candidates.

Hanna stresses that the chancellor's office has never become involved in a president search, though it has led state community colleges to interim candidates. Rather, he will help trustees understand what has worked in the past and what hasn't, and explain basic how-tos, such a writing a job description and timetables.

And because few, if any, trustees organizations offer search services, the State College of Florida trustees will have to decide whether to hire a search firm or conduct the search themselves moving forward.

"I'll help explain the process," Hanna said. "But it's up to the board."

That process may take some time. Hanna said president searches can take anywhere from three to nine months. He'd expect 30 to 40 applicants for a school of State College of Florida's size.

After months of arguing over financial decisions for the college, Hafner agreed Tuesday to leave the college in exchange for a $363,000 settlement. The trustees

indicated then that they would probably begin the search for an interim candidate in the next couple of weeks.

Crocker, as vice president of academic quality and services, was tagged acting president according to school succession rules, but on Thursday he announced in a staff email he would resign effective Jan. 2.

If trustees do not find an interim before January, Vice President for Business and Administrative Services Carol Probstfeld becomes acting president.

Board chairman Carlos Beruff has said he would recommend an interim candidate who did not plan on applying for the permanent decision.

New trustee Eric Robinson said he hopes for someone already at SCF.

"The kind of person I would want is the interim now," Robinson said, referring to Crocker and his focus on education and curriculum. "If I had a vote, which I do, it would be someone internal."

Hanna said that is not uncommon.

"Historically, what has happened in Florida is you have had one of two options," Hanna said. "Either one is appointed internally or you bring in someone in who has served as a president somewhere else, and often within the system in Florida."

But will the board's recent history of spatting with their president affect applicants? Hanna doesn't think so.

"There are numerous examples of colleges where there has been a disagreement between the past president and the board over the future of the college, and the college has been very successful in selecting a new president," Hanna said. "State College of Florida will be very successful in attracting quality candidates for the presidency."

Katy Bergen, Herald education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081.

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