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Non-disclosure agreements now required in Florida university president searches

City & State Florida by Ryan Dailey

Months after the Legislature and Gov. Ron DeSantis approved a law that shields parts of searches for college and university presidents, state university system officials added an additional layer of secrecy that requires non-disclosure agreements.

The issue of non-disclosure agreements in presidential searches erupted last week, amid a dust-up between leaders of Florida Atlantic University’s Board of Trustees.

Searches for university and college presidents have been veiled following the passage of a 2022 law that created a public-records exemption for information that could identify applicants until near the end of the searches, when information about finalists can be released.

But the state university system’s Board of Governors quietly added an extra layer of confidentiality in November, approving a rule requiring members of presidential search committees to sign non-disclosure agreements. The requirement was included as part of a wide-ranging consent agenda during a Nov. 9 meeting of the board, which did not discuss the non-disclosure mandate prior to approving the agenda item.

…But Barbara Petersen, an open-government expert who is executive director of the Florida Center for Government Accountability, called parts of FAU’s non-disclosure agreement “bizarre.”

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