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New university system chancellor could be in place by November

The state university system could have a new, permanent leader in place by Thanksgiving.

Following the lead of the Board of Education -- which decided to give the interim commissioner the permanent job today, just seven weeks after her former boss stepped down -- the Board of Governors wants to move quickly to find a replacement for Chancellor Frank Brogan, who steps down at the end of the month.

The Board of Governors' search committee will meet in the next two weeks to begin the process of finding a new chancellor. If the right candidate surfaces quickly, the full board could approve a new leader on Nov. 21 at its next in-person meeting.

Mori Hosseini, the board's vice chairman and leader of the search committee, said members will start off fielding candidates without the assistance of an outside firm. The search committee will advertise for the chancellor position and consider both internal and external candidates.

"The No. 1 requirement is the quality," Hosseini said today. "It is the person that is a proven leader that we absolutely know about this person, we know their record. We will not cut through anything just to get somebody quickly."

Vice Chancellor Jan Ignash will serve as interim chancellor when Brogan leaves to head up Pennsylvania's university system. If the initial search doesn't produce an applicant the board rallies around, the committee would recommend hiring a search firm and extending the timeline, Hosseini said.

The Board of Governors recently agreed on how to divide $20 million in performance funding among the state universities and is finalizing its budget requests for the 2014-2015 fiscal year. Other priorities include strategic planning, online learning and making sure students are graduating on time with degrees that lead to jobs.

"That's why we're looking for somebody quickly to see if we can find that person," Hosseini said. "There are so many things in the hopper that we don't want to go backward."

The search committee will hold its first meeting within the next two weeks. The seven members will discuss what kind of candidate they are looking for and how to carry out this initial search process. Hosseini said he wants to try to keep the focus on finding the best leader and not worry about the politics, but he knows it is unavoidable.

Whoever the board selects must have the support of Gov. Rick Scott, too, Hosseini said.