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Levine, Huizenga Jr., others seek coveted BOG slots

Gov. Rick Scott has an important decision to make. Six of them, to be exact.

Six of the governor's 14 appointments to the State University System Board of Governors are up for review this month. The BOG sets policy for universities, and they are among the most prestigious appointments in state government. The cluster of openings at the start of a new year gives Scott a chance to put his philosophical stamp on a vital policymaking board.

The pool of candidates includes former state Rep. Fred Costello, a dentist from Ormond Beach; Harry Wayne Huizenga Jr., son of the former Miami Dolphins owner and Blockbuster Video founder; educator John Giotis of Clearwater Beach; and Alan Levine of Naples, a health care executive and senior VP of Hospital Management Services of Florida.

The four BOG members whose terms are up are Tico Perez of Orlando, Gus Stavros of St. Petersburg, John Temple of Boca Raton and Norman Tripp of Fort Lauderdale. Among those incumbents, only Tripp is seeking a new seven-year term, according to the governor's office. Two other vacancies exist because BOG members Joe Caruncho and Ava Parker resigned with parts of their terms unfilled to take other positions.

Scott said that one prerequisite for BOG appointees is that they must share his firm opposition to any more tuition increases at universities.

"Absolutely. Absolutely," Scott said. "I'm going to appoint people who believe the way I do, that we've got to look at every way we can figure out how to keep tuition as low as possible." 

Scott's office says some of the appointments are imminent. The board's next meeting is Jan. 16-17 in Gainesville. 

-- Steve Bousquet