Jim Purcell, the state Commissioner of Higher Education, is among the four finalists to oversee Florida’s four-year universities.
Purcell, who has locked horns with Gov. Bobby Jindal over Jindal’s deep cuts to Louisiana’s colleges and universities, will interview for the job on Tuesday in Orlando.
“It means he’s either not happy with us or someone’s not happy with him,” state Sen. Conrad Appel, R-Baton Rouge, said when asked his response. Appel is chairman of the Senate Education Committee.
The new job would be a big promotion if Purcell were to get it. The chancellor of the Florida system oversees the 12 four-year colleges with 200,000 students and a budget of $9.7 billion. In Louisiana, Purcell sets the general direction for the state’s colleges and universities, but the governor and state Legislature decide how much money they will get.
Below is an email that Purcell sent to his Board of Regents staff on Friday.
Dear BoR Colleagues:
You may or may not have heard that I will be interviewing for the Chancellor of the University System of Florida next week. I want you all to know that my decision to look at other employment opportunities was not taken lightly. I am enjoying my LA BoR experience, and I think we are doing good work together, however, on occasion I am made aware of job opportunities that peak my interest.
We are all in pursuit of the American Dream. I hope that you can support me in this endeavor. Also, please note that an interview is not a job offer, and I will be diligently advocating for Louisiana higher education now and even if I were to take another job opportunity.
Jim Purcell, Ed.D., Commissioner
Louisiana Board of Regents