Florida Atlantic University’s Next President Could Be a DeSantis-Mad Anti-Woke Warrior
Florida State Rep. Randy Fine says he’s being considered as a possible candidate to become the next president of Florida Atlantic University (FAU)—and that he’s definitely interested in the job.
The hardline conservative lawmaker said Tuesday he’d been approached by the office of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, with a spokesperson for DeSantis’ office telling the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that Fine would be “a good candidate for the job.”
That opinion may come as a surprise to those who have followed the extremely divisive positions adopted by Fine—who once called for a yearslong “potential shutdown” of another college and even threatened Joe Biden over gun control.
FAU—currently in the national spotlight after its men’s basketball team reached the NCAA Final Four—is looking for a new president after John Kelly left the role in December. A law passed by Florida’s state legislature in 2022 stipulates that the names of potential replacement candidates will remain secret until they become finalists.
But that didn’t stop Fine from revealing that he’d been asked to put his own name forward for the gig. “It’s very flattering to have been asked, and something I’m actively considering,” he told the Sun-Sentinel. “It certainly is an amazing opportunity.” He also said “if people want to find out” about his politics, they merely have to look at his record.
Fine has completely embraced DeSantis’ radical anti-woke education reforms throughout Florida. He also played a key role in the governor’s battle against Disney, with Fine citing the company’s opposition to DeSantis’ “Don’t Say Gay” law as the reason he backed a bill to end Disney’s special self-governing status last year.
In a January announcement of his bid for state Senate, Fine called himself a “well-known conservative firebrand” and bragged about his uncompromising approach to education. “I have passed legislation transforming our public schools, our universities, and protecting the Indian River Lagoon,” he said. “I have fought illegal immigration and wokeism across our state—and right here at home. And I have done it unafraid of the attacks that have come my way from the radical left.”
Fine has also made headlines on educational issues which have nothing to do with his hardcore anti-woke sensibilities. In 2019, he suggested a “five and 10-year potential shutdown” of the University of Central Florida over a row about construction spending. In a statement, the school said Fine’s idea would “cause irreparable harm to Florida’s future.” But not to worry, because Fine said he never really intended for his wild suggestion to be taken literally, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
The defense seemed to prefigure a later controversy about how much voters could take Fine at his word. Last year, the lawmaker denied having threatened to use his relationship with DeSantis to cut funding for the 2022 Special Olympics being hosted at Disney. Florida Today later obtained text messages sent between Fine and a councilman showing that his denial was untrue, with one of the messages also showing that Fine had referred to a Brevard County School Board member as a “whore.”
The school board member in question, Jennifer Jenkins, told The Daily Beast last year that Fine started feuding with her after she publicly asked him if he supported a mask mandate during the COVID pandemic. After initially opposing such mandates for people who were vaccinated, Fine later fully backed DeSantis’ ban on masks—despite needing surgery himself over complications relating to his own COVID infection.
He even went so far as to threaten to punish schools that disobeyed DeSantis’ mask ban. “I’m not going to share what I will do. But it will hurt,” Fine said in 2021. “Students are not going to be prevented from going to school because some bureaucrat wants to tell parents how to raise their child.”
Source: The Daily Beast
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