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Monday, June 24, 2024

Newspaper: Central Florida ‘let down' by UF professor, state senator

One of the five people who let down Central Florida in 2011 is on UF's payroll.

In a Jan. 7 editorial, the Orlando Sentinel named five people who "squandered or misused their positions of power through selfishness, mismanagement or corruption."

Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos (R-Merritt Island) made the list.

Haridopolos teaches political science courses on campus during the Fall semester and instructs students who participate in a Tallahassee internship during the legislative session in the spring.

UF pays him $75,000 a year, according to records from the Office of Institutional Planning and Research.

In November, Haridopolos admitted he lied to a Miami Herald reporter in April 2010 when he denied knowing about a secret settlement agreement with former Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer.

Also in 2010, Haridopolos was found guilty of an ethics violation for failing to properly complete his financial disclosure forms.

On Tuesday, the first day of the legislative session, the Miami Herald published Haridopolos' rebuttal to a Herald editorial that decried his actions.

"I, too, regret these mistakes, but as you read through each one, I hope you see that each of these was just that a mistake," he wrote.

UF spokeswoman Janine Sikes said Haridopolos' political behavior has no effect on his teaching status because UF evaluates its employees based on their work with students.

Sikes said Haridopolos has helped expand the student internship program in Tallahassee, and students say they gained valuable experience from him.

"In this case, it depends on the value to the students," she said.

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Justin Fisch, 21, took the Tallahassee internship during Spring 2010, when he was a sophomore. Twice a week, he and the 13 other interns gathered at 7:30 a.m. to meet with and receive guidance from Haridopolos before he went to work on the Senate floor.

Now a senior pursuing a triple major in political science, geography and sustainability studies, Fisch said the senator's instruction was a worthwhile component of the experience.

"He was a wonderful coordinator for the program right from the beginning," Fisch said. "It was a very constructive experience for all of us."

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