Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater is applying for the presidency of Florida Atlantic University, a position that, if attained, will more than likely require his resignation from his cabinet position.
He made the announcement in a letter sent to his staff members Saturday, according to Jacksonville.com.
“After much thought and discussion with my family, I have decided to place my name into consideration for this position,” he said in the letter.
Because Atwater is favored to win re-election in November, his departure could open the field up for Democrats. In the event he does resign, Gov. Rick Scott will fill the vacancy. Both Scott and Atwater are Republicans.
Almost 50 people have applied for the position after Mary Jane Saunders resigned in May amid several controversies that received national attention. They include one incident where a professor wanted his class to figuratively “stomp on Jesus,” and another involving a professor who claimed that the Sandy Hook massacre and the Boston Marathon bombing were both government conspiracies
Atwater’s letter reads:
I want to share information with you that is very timely. I have been approached by Florida Atlantic University (FAU) regarding the search for their next president. After much thought and discussion with my family, I have decided to place my name into consideration for this position.
As most of you know, I hold a unique and special affinity for FAU. For more than two decades, in both my professional business and public life, I have had the honor of working with the FAU community during a time its reputation has grown from a regional to a state and now to a nationally and internationally respected and admired University. I represented three of the campuses during my years in the Legislature and led the efforts to establish a standalone medical school at the University. During those years, two of my children graduated from FAU and a third is currently enrolled and pursuing her degree.
My passion and enthusiasm to serve as Florida’s Chief Financial Officer is as strong today as it was my first day in office. Your commitment to serving the people of Florida is an inspiration to me. We have accomplished much together and the thought of working alongside you for years to come remains as exciting as ever.
I wanted you to receive this message directly from me. I will consider the prospects of this position in a thoughtful manner. FAU has told me that their selection process will not be protracted so let us all press onward in our service to the people of Florida making 2014 our most successful year ever.
Atwater, who formerly served as Florida Senate president, is a North Palm Beach native. Florida Atlantic University is located in Boca Raton, which is also in Palm Beach County.
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