HARRISBURG — Frank T. Brogan, a higher-education executive and former Florida lieutenant governor, was picked Wednesday to be the next chancellor of Pennsylvania’s 14-university State System of Higher Education.
The system’s board of governors unanimously selected Brogan, a Republican who was Florida’s lieutenant governor from 1999 to 2003 under then-Gov. Jeb Bush and chancellor of the State University System of Florida since 2009.
Brogan, who also served as president of Florida Atlantic University from 2003 to 2009, will be the fourth chancellor to lead Pennsylvania’s public university system, the 13th largest in the nation with about 115,000 students. Florida’s system is No. 2 with nearly 340,000 students.
The position is the highest-paid job in Pennsylvania’s state government, but Brogan’s $327,500 salary — same as the previous chancellor, John Cavanaugh, who stepped down in February — represents a pay cut from his $357,000 Florida salary.
Brogan said he was preparing to look for a new job as he entered the last year of his five-year contract as chancellor of the Florida system and faced an automatic cutoff from the Florida state retirement system when that contract ran out. He said he liked the ideas of remaining a chancellor and moving his family to live in another part of the country.
“I really had no expectation of looking at a salary that was commensurate with the one that I have here now, and I really was perfectly comfortable with that,” he told reporters in a teleconference call.
The president of the union that represents more than 6,000 faculty members and coaches in the Pennsylvania system said Brogan’s experience in academia as well as state government should be beneficial.
“The chancellor is the face of public higher education in the commonwealth,” said Steve Hicks of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties.
Peter Garland, a former executive vice chancellor of the Pennsylvania system, has served as acting chancellor since Cavanaugh resigned after five years to head the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area.
Brogan, who will be 60 by the time he starts his new job Oct. 1, was picked over two other finalists in an unusually secretive search process.
The system’s board of governors, most of whom are gubernatorial appointees, voted unanimously in January to keep the search process secret for the first time in the system’s 31 years. Such secrecy is increasingly sought by higher-education executives out fear of reprisal if their current employers discover they have been job hunting.
Brogan said he was not seriously concerned about the possibility of public disclosure of his interest in the job because he advised leaders of the Florida board in advance.
Brogan will be the third consecutive Florida resident to serve as Pennsylvania’s chancellor, said system spokesman Kenn Marshall. Cavanaugh had been president of West Florida University in Pensacola and his predecessor, Judy Hample, held the same job that Brogan is leaving, Marshall said.
Only Guido Pichini, the board’s chairman, physically attended Wednesday’s meeting. The other 14 members who joined Pichini in approving Brogan’s selection voted through a teleconference.
The state system comprises Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock, West Chester and IUP.
Local officials were still processing the announcement this morning, but Ramesh Soni, vice president of IUP’s faculty union, said that he has heard some positive things about Brogan’s ability to bring additional resources to the Florida system. He said he is hopeful that Brogan will be able to do the same in Pennsylvania.
State Rep. Dave Reed, R-Indiana, an IUP graduate, said Brogan will be challenged to find the right balance of support for the 14 universities, some of which are experiencing declining enrollment and financial distress and some of which are moving in the opposite direction, such as IUP.
Gazette staff writer Sam Kusic contributed to this report.