Florida State University (FSU) has removed Richard Corcoran from its shortlist of candidates nominated to be the university’s next president. According to Breitbart, the search committee canceled Corcoran in response to a letter it received from the university’s accreditor, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
The National Association of Scholars (NAS), where I serve as president, has had no prior involvement in this matter and has not endorsed any candidate for FSU’s presidency. In response to the report on Breitbart, we attempted to confirm the facts. The president of SACSCOC, Belle Wheelan, did indeed write to the Florida Board of Governors chairman Sydney Kitson on May 13, expressing concerns about the search, and especially warning that an unnamed candidate had a potential conflict of interest. This was a thinly veiled reference to Corcoran, who serves on the Florida Board of Governors.
Conflicts of interest of this sort are common and are usually handled by the member recusing himself or stepping aside from his position. Disqualifying a candidate on this basis is unusual. It’s even more unusual for a regional accreditor to intervene in a presidential search.