SCF acting president resigns, criticizes trustees

The acting president of State College of Florida appointed to replace ousted President Lars Hafner has told staff he has also resigned.

In an email to college staff Thursday, Vice President of Academic Quality and Success W. Jack Crocker announced he had submitted his resignation the day before his new appointment, effective Jan. 2, 2013.

“I did not make the decision reluctantly,” Crocker wrote. “Dr. Hafner hired me to help bring changes to the college and I committed to him that I would stay at least three years. ... Under Lars’ leadership I have enjoyed the academic adventure of helping create a continuum of educational opportunities from middle school to the doctorate.”

Hafner left SCF Tuesday with a $363,000 settlement agreement after months of conflict with some trustees, who have consistently questioned his financial judgment on school construction projects.

At Tuesday’s meeting, trustees Jennifer Saslaw and Joe Miller, often Hafner’s only advocates, also handed in letters of resignation.

Crocker indicated in his email that the new president should be free to select their own academic vice president. “ ... the next president should have the very important vice president academic position open in order to choose new thinking and style. I hope it only gets better.”

But Crocker also made it clear he did not agree with the trustees’ vision for the future of SCF. “I can accept political reality, but I do not have to accept being held under its foot, to the detriment, I believe, of the traditions of a proven model of higher education and the professionalism, commitment and accomplishments of those who sustain its good works,” he wrote.

“Yes, there is plenty of room for improvement, but the danger of claiming to do good in lock-step adherence to an ideology lies in the condition, as described by Oscar Wilde, of someone who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.”

Crocker was named acting president of the college Tuesday when the board declined to name an interim president after Hafner’s departure. Under the school’s guidelines, if an interim is not named, the responsibilities of the office of the president fall to Crocker’s position as academic vice president. Next in line would be Vice President for Business and Administrative Services Carol Probstfeld, according to Katherine Walker, the public affairs director for SCF.

Meanwhile, the board of trustees will likely look to make an interim appointment while a search for a new president is conducted.

“I think we are going to suggest to the board that we look for a person who will not apply for the permanent position,” board Chairman Carlos Beruff said Tuesday night. “That’s my suggestion.”

He said the trustees will probably look to the chancellor’s office in Tallahassee for help with a national search for the permanent candidate, as the department has helped with other search processes before. All decisions would have to be discussed and be subject to trustee’s approval at future meetings.

In his email, Crocker said after the semester ends, he plans to take time to write a book and pursue other interests.

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