Former Sen. George LeMieux applies for Florida Atlantic University presidency, draws Scott praiseby George Bennett | January 5th, 2014
On the eve of a selection committee meeting to consider candidates for the vacant Florida Atlantic University presidency, former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux said today that he has submitted an application for the university’s top job.
LeMieux is the third political figure to announce an interest in the job. Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater said Saturday that he’s applying. State Sen. Jeremy Ring, D-Margate, is also seeking the job, along with at least 48 other applicants.
Gov. Rick Scott, who offered glowing words for Atwater on Saturday, praised LeMieux today.
“George LeMieux’s pursuit of the FAU presidency is further proof that Florida’s high-caliber universities attract the best and brightest talent in the country. FAU is fortunate to add to their list of presidency candidates someone like George who has a great vision for our state and would do an outstanding job as president,” Scott said.
LeMieux, 44, served 16 months as a Republican in the U.S. Senate after being appointed by former Gov. Charlie Crist to complete the term of former Sen. Mel Martinez, who resigned in 2009. LeMieux didn’t run for the Senate seat in 2010, but opened a campaign in 2011 for the seat of Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson before dropping out in 2012.
LeMieux was chief of staff at the beginning of Crist’s governorship and was top deputy when Crist was attorney general from 2003 to 2007. LeMieux is currently chairman of the board for the 170-lawyer Gunster firm. He also heads the LeMieux Center for Public Policy at Palm Beach Atlantic University. The LeMieux Center hosts lectures on government, politics and policy.
LeMieux declined to discuss his candidacy in detail, saying “I respect the process and I’m confident the board will choose the best candidate.”
An FAU selection committee meets Monday to choose eight applicants for interviews Thursday and Friday. The university’s board of trustees hopes to interview three finalists and name a president Jan. 17.
Former FAU President Mary Jane Saunders stepped down in May while the school reeled from a series of public relations disasters, including a botched attempt to sell football stadium naming rights to a private prison contractor, a classroom exercise in which students were asked to write “Jesus” on a piece of paper and step on it and a tenured professor’s suggestion that the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., and the Boston Marathon bombings might have been hoaxes.