GAINESVILLE, Fla. – University of Florida President Bernie Machen said Friday he was "tremendously disappointed" with the school's Faculty Senate vote to deny former Gov. Jeb Bush an honorary degree.
The Senate voted 38-28 Thursday against giving the honorary degree to Bush, who left office in January.
"Jeb Bush has been a great friend of the University of Florida," said Machen, adding that the Senate's action is "unheard of."
Some faculty expressed concern about Bush's record in higher education.
"I really don't feel this is a person who has been a supporter of UF," Kathleen Price, associate dean of library and technology at the school's Levin College of Law, told The Gainesville Sun after the vote.
Bush's approval of three new medical schools during his tenure has diluted resources, Price told the newspaper.
Bush has also been criticized for his "One Florida" proposal, an initiative that ended race-based admissions programs at state universities.
Machen maintains, however, that Bush has benefited the university, such as by providing the funding to attract nationally recognized faculty.
Machen also pointed to Bush's First Generation Scholarship program, modeled after a University of Florida effort to help high school students at risk of not making it to college.
University officials said they could not recall any precedent for the Senate rejecting the nominees put forth by the Faculty Senate's Honorary Degrees, Distinguished Alumnus Awards and Memorials Committee. The committee determines whether nominees deserve consideration according to standards that include "eminent distinction in scholarship or high distinction in public service."
"The committee endorsed him," Machen said. "It is unheard of that a faculty committee would look at candidates, make recommendations and then (those candidates) be overturned by the Senate."
An e-mail sent to Bush by The Associated Press was not immediately returned.