Former Florida House Speaker Allan Bense, who voted for a tuition increase at the school 3 years ago against Gov. Rick Scott's wishes, is out as a member of Florida State University’s Board of Trustees.
Scott, a Republican, announced in a press release late Friday that Bense, a Panama City Republican, will be replaced on the board by Maximo Alvarez, of Doral, who is president of Sunshine Gasoline Distributors Inc. Alvarez, a longtime political ally and support of U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, owns nearly 400 gas stations in South Florida.
Bense re-applied for the position he held since 2011 with two other board members, Emily “June” Duda of Oviedo and Joe Gruters of Sarasota. Duda and Gruters both were reappointed but Bense was passed over.
“I don’t know why,” Bense said after learning he was not reappointed.
Scott did not say why Bense was rejected, but his office issued a statement praising his service.
“Governor Scott appreciates Speaker Bense for his five years of service to Florida State University and his commitment to Florida students throughout his career,” John Tupps, Deputy Communications Director for Scott. “Governor Scott is confident that Maximo Alvarez will continue to build on Florida State University’s Board of Trustees’ focus of providing students with an affordable education that allows them to find a job when they graduate.”
Bense, who holds a pair of degrees from FSU, may have been done in by a 2013 tuition increase vote. In June 2013, Bense voted for a 1.7 percent increase in tuition that was called a “cost of living increase.” Bense advocated for the increase while both board members Duda and Gruters voted against that proposal.
Tuition increases have been a big issue for Scott during his tenure as governor. Scott has consistently opposed tuition increases at Florida universities and colleges, and vetoed a 3 percent tuition hike state lawmakers had approved early in 2013 before the FSU trustees voted for the 1.7 percent increase.
Alvarez, Duda and Gruters all will have terms on FSU’s board that runs through Jan. 6, 2021.
FSU has a 13-member board of trustees. Scott gets to appoint six members. The state board of governors appoints five. The faculty senate and student body president fill out the remaining two seats.