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Former FIU Prez Maidique nominated for university system chancellor but hasn't said if he will apply


The worst-kept secret in town -- that AT&T Florida President Marshall Criser III would be the leading candidate to be the next university system chancellor -- is indeed true. He and 18 others are in the running to lead the state's 12 public universities, though many of the folks who applied have seemingly thin resumes.

There were some surprises: former U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart wrote a letter nominating former Florida International University President Modesto “Mitch” Maidique for the job. Maidique has until Monday to decide if he will accept the nomination and formally apply.

He has the academic credentials that Criser lacks but is in his 70s and may not actually want the job. 

Maidique served at FIU for 23 years until his retirement in 2009. FIU grew from a commuter school to a major research university under his tenure, and he was given much of the credit.

James "Jim" Purcell, commissioner of the Louisiana Board of Regents, may also be a leading candidate. Put another way, he is the state university system chancellor in Louisiana, just with a different title and on a smaller scale. 

There were some who wondered if Florida Polytechnic University interim President Ava Parker would submit her name. She did not. Now folks will wonder if that means Parker is eyeing the permanent job at Florida A&M University.


Randy Goin, the Board of Governors’ chief of staff who is serving as the point person during the search process, painted a rosy picture when describing the 19 applicants.

"You will see it is an impressive and diverse pool, with individuals that have experience in academia, business and government," Goin wrote in an email. "The pool includes a number of former presidents and provosts, along with current and former college/university system heads and corporate CEOs."

The search committee will say whether or not it agrees with that analysis when it meets via conference call on Nov. 7 to review applications and decide who they want to bring in for interviews. The committee previously decided not to hire a search firm unless it can't find good applicants on its own.

Most of the 19 applicants nominated themselves, and many of them don’t appear to have the academic, political or business background that would make them attractive for the position. (A full list is below.)

Criser and Maidique were among the four applicants whose cases were bolstered by nomination letters from a third party. Former state Rep. William Proctor, who declined a request to serve as interim chancellor, wrote on behalf of Criser.

Two higher education officials in Iowa and Arkansas wrote letters recommending Purcell. The fourth nomination letter came in support of J. Bruce Rafert, provost and vice president for academic affairs at North Dakota State University, from a former university system administrator in that state.

The search committee would like to move quickly and hopes to recommend a nominee for the full board's approval at the Nov. 21 meeting in Miami.

The complete list of applicants:

  • -Vincent Beach, vice president for academic affairs and provost, New Mexico State University-Carlsbad.
  • -Marshall Criser III, president of AT&T Florida
  • -Marshall “Mark” Drummond, former Provost of the Higher Colleges of Technology in the United Arab Emirates
  • -John Feigerle, postal worker
  • -Walter Johnson, former professor and administrator at Shaw University
  • -Lisa Marie Lucena, associate director of admissions and recruiting at St. Thomas University School of Law
  • -Joseph Madden, senior manager at SMM Managing and Consulting Group in Dallas
  • -Modesto “Mitch” Maidique, former president at FIU (nominated but hasn’t officially applied)
  • -Terrance McCaffrey III, department of aerospace studies chairman at Florida State University
  • -KRS Murthy, CEO of I Cubed in San Francisco
  • -Ronald Nykiel, provost and vice president of academic affairs at University of Maryland-Eastern Shore
  • -Kamal Parhizgar, professor at Texas A&M International University
  • -James Purcell, commissioner of the Louisiana Board of Regents
  • -J. Bruce Rafert, provost and vice president for academic affairs, North Dakota State University
  • -Ralph Salvatore, dean of the division of arts & sciences and chief academic officer, Pueblo Community College
  • -Martin Shapiro, professor at Berkeley College in New York and New Jersey
  • -Tiffany Sholtz, academic advisor, Florida A&M University
  • -Carl Stockton, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at the University of Houston-Clear Lake
  • -John Wensveen, executive vice president of Mango Aviation Partners