Florida Chancellor Frank Brogan was named to a similar position in Pennsylvania on Wednesday, signaling an end to his four-year tenure as head of the State University System.
The board of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education tapped Brogan for the position during a meeting Wednesday. The (Harrisburg) Patriot-News reported that the vote was 15-0, and that Brogan would make $327,500. He will start the job Oct. 1.
That would be a cut from Brogan's current salary of $357,000, but he pointed out that the Pennsylvania system, which includes only some of that state's schools, has about a third of the population of Florida's university system.
In a conference call with reporters, Brogan noted he was nearing the final year of a five-year contract with the Florida Board of Governors that expires in September 2014, and that his participation in the state's Deferred Retirement Option Program, or DROP, was scheduled to run out in August 2015.
After that, Brogan would have had to retire for at least six months before taking another post in state government -- a practice known as "double dipping" -- something he said he had no intention of doing in any case.
"I really felt as though I would be looking for opportunities over the final year," Brogan said. "But I didn't know one would appear so quickly."
The 59-year-old Brogan, a former lieutenant governor whose name is still occasionally floated as a potential candidate for office, said he would maintain a home in Stuart. He would not rule out a future run, but said he was committed to Pennsylvania for now.
A former education commissioner and president of Florida Atlantic University, Brogan steered the Florida system through the fallout of the Great Recession, including a one-time budget cut of $300 million in the fiscal year that ended June 30, and the end of the Board of Governors' lawsuit against the Legislature over the power to set tuition.
The 17-member board has also been under pressure from Gov. Rick Scott, who has now appointed or re-appointed most of its members, to keep tuition rates down. Scott has also pushed for a greater emphasis on the science, technology, education and math degrees that he believes will power the new economy.
But Brogan said there was no friction between himself and Scott or the board.
"I really haven't had any difficulties with Governor Scott," he said.
Both Scott and Board of Governors Chairman Dean Colson praised Brogan in prepared statements.
"Florida’s education system has benefited from his hard work and his commitment to providing every Florida child with a quality education," Scott said. "His service will be greatly missed by education leaders throughout the state."
Colson called Brogan "Florida's top export" in terms of public service.
"Florida’s university system has experienced a renaissance, and we want to thank Chancellor Brogan for his leadership, commitment and vision as he worked side-by-side with the Board of Governors to move us forward," he said.
Brogan's departure leaves the top two education posts in the state empty. Education Commissioner Tony Bennett abruptly resigned last week following reports that he had tweaked Indiana's grading system in a way that benefited a political contributor when Bennett was the elected superintendent of education in that state.
Brogan said he had thought about the intersection of those decisions but wasn't overly concerned about who would follow him in Florida.
"I think we're going to have some blue-chip applications for the position," he said.
Even usual critics of Scott said that, while the twin vacancies create a vacuum at the top of the state's public-school and higher-education system, they also presented an opportunity.
"I just think there are some questions, and perhaps what we're about to do is re-examine what we're doing in Florida," said Rep. Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach.