Alumni address concerns with former presidential search candidate Tom Grady
A group of FGCU alumni sent a letter addressed to the Presidential Search Advisory Committee on Wednesday, Feb. 15 regarding concerns with the committee’s decision to move a certain candidate forward.
The letter, which was sent to Eagle News by alumnus Andres Machado and written by Machado, Madina Behori, Lori Boegershausen, Sherona Edwards, Kenneth Esquilin, Emilio Feijoo, Deion Jones, Lindsay Leban, Lucy Leban, Kathleen Leon, Christie Mauretour, Cory Mentzer, Jordan Nation and Tatiana Rodriguez, centers on the group’s concerns with former candidate Tom Grady.
After the second day of on-campus interviews on Thursday, Feb. 16, the committee chose four candidates to move forward to the Board of Trustees: Michael Martin, Susan Martin, Mark McLellan and Mark Rudin.
“In regards to Mr. Grady, there are several concerns we wish to share with you,” the letter read.
The alumni include 10 members of FGCU’s Hall of Fame and two Fulbright Scholars.
In the letter, the alumni describe Grady as a “political candidate” with no experience leading higher education institutions.
“It is more than essential that our next president has the experience and understanding of the best education practices to continue the great work Dr. Bradshaw has done in the last few years,” the letter read.
Machado, who graduated in 2015 and currently lives in Miami, said that the group got the idea to write the letter after watching Grady’s interview online on Feb. 15. Since the group members live in different parts of the world, they couldn’t meet in person, so they communicated via Facebook Messenger and email.
The group wrote the letter using a shared Google Doc, and sent it to the committee at 10 p.m. that night.
Machado was afraid that, because they sent it at night, he wouldn’t receive a response, but he received a response from the committee chair Ken Smith shortly after sending the letter.
“We got a response like, ‘thank you for your engagement in the process, we will take your concerns into consideration,’” Machado said.
Grady, who applied for the position on Jan. 30, is a member of the FGCU Board of Trustees, as well as the Emergent Technologies Institute Special Task Force.
In the letter, the alumni wrote that Grady has “received the support of Governor Rick Scott in the past.”
“We are highly concerned about the risk of bringing politics into our campus,” the letter read. “A political candidate, of any party affiliation, could run the risk of losing donors, faculty and future students.”
Machado said that if Grady had received the position it will take a long time for him to gain trust with the university.
The letter states “87.8 percent of faculty are opposed to Mr. Grady’s appointment,” and that the group is concerned with Grady’s stance on the liberal arts programs at FGCU.
“We have record of him advocating for the elimination of ten liberal arts degrees when he served on the Board of Trustees,” the letter read.
In the letter, the alumni explain that they have concerns with Grady’s apparent dismissal of diversity at FGCU during his interview.
“Mr. Grady does not understand, value or appreciate diversity in our institution,” the letter read. “Diversity is a pillar in higher education, and we were deeply saddened by his response to the committee.”
The letter ends with the group urging the committee to not select Grady as a finalist.
“We urge you to please keep in mind the wellbeing of our faculty, staff, and our students,” the letter read.
Machado said that he appreciates all of the work that the committee has put into finding Bradshaw’s replacement, however, he wants the committee to think about the university community when deciding whom to appoint.
“We just want a president that embodies what we call the FGCU Effect, that embodies those values and those ideas,” Machado said.
After hearing the news that Grady wasn’t one of the four finalists, Machado said he is “happy that the committee members took us seriously.”
“They took the concerns of faculty, staff, alumni, donors and students and voted in everyone’s best interest,” Machado said. “We are watching this search very closely and we look forward to continuing our engagement in the search on behalf of students and alumni.”