Government & Politics

State higher ed commissioner, who has objected to Jindal cuts, finalist for Fla. job

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

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About Tyler Bridges

Tyler Bridges covers Louisiana politics and public policy for The Lens. He returned to New Orleans in 2012 after spending the previous year as a Nieman Fellow at Harvard, where he studied digital journalism. Prior to that, he spent 13 years as a reporter for the Miami Herald, where he was twice a member of Pulitzer Prize-winning teams while covering state government, the city of Miami and national politics. He also was a foreign correspondent based in South America. Before the Herald, he covered politics for seven years at The Times-Picayune. He is the author of The Rise of David Duke (1994) and Bad Bet on the Bayou: The Rise of Gambling in Louisiana and the Fall of Governor Edwin Edwards (2001). He can be reached at (504) 810-6222.

  • jeffsadow

    Oh dear, it’s never good when the head of a university system confuses “peak” for “pique.”