University of Florida faculty union V.P. reacts to leaked university leadership texts

Published: Dec. 14, 2021 at 5:53 PM EST
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - One leader of the University of Florida’s chapter of the United Faculty of Florida worries about state government interference after a text conversation between two UF leaders has leaked.

A conversation between UF President Kent Fuchs and University Board of Trustees Chair Mori Hosseini about Fuch’s plan for classes during the fall semester of 2021.

Fuchs asked Hosseini if any changes were needed and Hosseini responded by asking if the governor’s office was aware of Fuch’s initial decision to have classes virtually for the first three weeks of the semester. He then asked for a link to be able to forward to the governor’s office.

RELATED STORY: UF faculty union hosting virtual town hall with Florida 2022 gubernatorial candidates

Meera Sitharam, Vice President of UFF-UF, said that the full board should be consulted before the chair makes decisions to give to the university’s president

“The board of trustees should offhand consult among themselves before they tell the president what to do,” said Sitharam.

Sitharam also worries about what outside influence will do to the integrity of the university.

“The people of Florida have invested in constitutional autonomy in the universities, If the universities don’t respect that, if the board of trustees does not respect that, and doesn’t accordingly behave, then it really undercuts the foundations of what a university, a public higher education institution is about,” said Sitharam.

A representative for the board of trustees sent this statement in lieu of an interview with Hosseini:

It is common practice for the president to confer with the Board of Trustees chair on matters of importance. From time to time, the board chair may elect to inform state officials of university developments as the University of Florida is a state institution. It is important to remember that the University of Florida, like other State University System institutions, was following guidance from the Board of Governors that called for a return to pre-pandemic operational levels for the 2021-22 academic year.

The board will not meet again until April 21.

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