A search committee on Tuesday narrowed a list of candidates to become president of Florida State University.
A total of nine people will be interviewed for the position on May 14 and 15.
Among the candidates who will be interviewed is state Education Commissioner, and former Florida House Speaker, Richard Corcoran.
Also included are current FSU Athletic Director David Coburn, Tallahassee attorney, FSU Panama City Dean Randy Hanna, and lobbyist Sean Pittman, along with what the presidential search committee called five more traditional candidates having academic backgrounds.
Search committee member Pam Perrewe, a Ph.D. who teaches in the FSU College of Business Administration, worries that the position may go to someone, like Corcoran, whose background is not in academia.
“Leading roles in higher education should not be treated as political pawns or a career reward for state political leaders lacking other qualifications in higher ed administration,” Perrewe said.
Corcoran’s candidacy has drawn concerns about potential conflicts of interest and accusations of cronyism from retired FSU employee Joseph Clark.
“FSU isn’t someone’s ideological plaything or a golden parachute for the politically connected,” Clark said. “The students, faculty staff, families and our public expect more than that from you, as I am sure you are aware.”
FSU Board of Trustees Chairman Ed Burr, who is also on the search committee, says any of the people on the list of candidates would be successful if chosen.
“We’ve done a great job of putting together a pool of candidates, both traditional and nontraditional,” Burr said. “I think we should go forward and address those candidates and address the qualifications of those candidates and see how they fit.”
The presidential search is underway due to the upcoming retirement of current FSU President John Thrasher, who has been on the job since late 2014.
Prior to becoming president, Thrasher had also served as Speaker of the House in Florida and later in the state Senate.
When he was hired, many faculty members were also concerned about his political, rather than academic background.
FSU has a history of recruiting former House speakers.
Also in the running are University of North Carolina Chapel Hill Provsst Robert Blouin, Harvard Vice Provost Robert McCullough, Tulane University’s Vice President of Research Giovanni Piedimonte, University of Maryland Provost Mary Ann Rankin and Texas A&M University President Emeritus Michael Young.
WFSU reporter Lynn Hatter contributed to this report.