A graduate course in favoritism

By A Times Staff Writer
Published February 24, 2008

The University of Florida, beset by financial struggles of historic proportion, has managed to find enough money to keep Senate Finance and Tax Chairman Mike Haridopolos off the soup line. Haridopolos, who had otherwise been unemployed since the summer, has just landed a job as a full-time UF lecturer in a move both sides are proclaiming as a match made in academic heaven.

Maybe. Then again, there are enough winks and nods in this deal to make a taxpayer's head spin:

- The nonapplication. Jane Adams, UF's vice president for university relations, told the Gainesville Sun she heard through a mutual friend that Haridopolos was looking for work. She sent his name to an interim dean with the question: "Is there anything that would be a good fit there?"

- The blindside. The chairman of political science at UF says his department was not consulted, as is the routine, and told the Sun his dean presented the hiring to him as a "fait accompli."

- The salary. Haridopolos will get $75,000, which is $5,000 more than the person he replaced. But Haridopolos has no Ph.D., unlike the assistant professor he replaced, and two other political science lecturers who do have doctorates earn an average of $46,580 each.

- The job schedule. Haridopolos spends the spring in Tallahassee for the 60-day legislative session and, in any event, doesn't plan to move to Gainesville from his home in Indialantic. So university officials now say he will help establish internships while he is a away from campus.

Haridopolos, who holds the purse strings for universities and is in line to become Senate president in 2010, says that UF will get no special favors from him in his legislative capacity. That hardly seems fair, given the special favor the university clearly has bestowed on him.