Editorial: Florida Schools Should Shun Political Hires

This story was written by Editorial Board, Independent Florida Alligator

As a result of the worst budget crisis in state history, Floridas colleges and universities have been forced to leave vacant positions unfilled, eliminate or incapacitate various degree programs and hand out pink slips to faculty members in order to cope with the state Legislatures refusal to fully fund higher education.

In the wake of crippling budget cuts and skyrocketing tuition and fee increases, were disappointed to see the administrators at Floridas institutions of higher education handing out lucrative and unmerited positions to current and former elected officials.

You may recall that last spring UF announced the hiring of state Sen. Mike Haridopolos as a visiting political science professor amid tempered and respectful faculty protest. Haridopolos is set to make almost three times as much as the average visiting lecturer in the department while teaching one class and running an internship program. Haridopolos does not have a graduate degree, and his only teaching experience came while at Brevard Community College.

Shortly after UF announced Haridopolos hiring, state Sen. Evelyn Lynn decided to relinquish the $2,300 weekly paycheck she was receiving from Florida State University for directing its reading assistance center in Daytona Beach. Lynn only chose to give up her salary after it was revealed that she had helped secure state funding for the center.

In the latest instance of this troubling trend, Florida International University has announced the hiring of outgoing Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio as a visiting distinguished service professor. Rubio, who supervised the Legislatures evisceration of the states higher education budget, has accepted a parttime job at FIU, where he will make $69,000 over nine months to coteach a politics class and develop an affordable housing plan for local governments. Rubio, like Haridopolos, does not hold an advanced degree of any kind and has no teaching experience comparable to his new gig.

With the state in a perilous budget predicament that requires restraint and sacrifice, administrators shouldnt be purchasing political clout at the expense of keeping quality professors in the classrooms.