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Rep. Tommy Gregory applies for SCF president post

Rep. Tommy Gregory shakes hands with audience members before answering their questions.
Rep. Tommy Gregory shakes hands with audience members before answering their questions.
Photo by Lesley Dwyer
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Rep. Tommy Gregory (72nd District) is in the running to become the next president of the State College of Florida. 

Carol Probstfeld is retiring July 1 after serving 22 years in the role. Gregory is one of three finalists. If he gets the job, he said he either will give up his Florida House seat or he won't run for reelection. 

Gregory is half way through his second term. Representatives are limited to four terms.  

“It just makes sense,” he said of not trying to do both jobs. “(College president) is a time and a half job. There’s no doubt about it.” 

Gregory visited SCF’s Bradenton campus March 26 for a public forum. About 100 people attended and another 90 interacted via Teams. 

It was a 45-minute public job interview. The discussions ranged from Gregory’s vision for the college to his music preferences. 

Faculty Senate President Phil Travis broached the elephant in the room, pointing out that Gregory is a politician. 

Travis said an anonymous survey of the faculty showed a clear preference toward an appointee who came up through the “traditional channels of education.” 

“And they were unanimously concerned with the idea of an appointment who was in politics,” Travis said. “How would you allay the fears and concerns of the faculty?”

Rep. Tommy Gregory is at the State College of Florida's Bradenton campus on March 26. Gregory is interviewing to be the college's next president.
Photo by Lesley Dwyer

Gregory said he would approach the faculty with trust and respect. Then, he joked that he’s all for an “automatic dislike toward politicians.” 

The other two finalists are Martyn R. Clay and Anthony J. Iacono. 

Clay has been the president of Hillsborough Community College’s Plant City campus since 2012 and has 30 years of higher education experience. Iacono has been the president of County College of Morris since 2016 and has 25 years of higher education experience. 

However, Gregory’s resume is not void of education experience. His experience comes from the military instead of higher education. Gregory is a litigation attorney now, but he was a member of the U.S. Air Force Judge Advocate General’s Corps. 

He served as an instructor, course director and general counsel for the Air Mobility Warfare Center. The mobility operation school teaches 12,000 students a year. He taught seven courses and helped design new ones. 

Fundraising is an area where Gregory might have a leg up on the competition. Probstfeld has been vocal that SCF is underfunded when it comes to comparable colleges. 

“Anybody can make a request for the state to appropriate dollars to their college, but it really helps to, No. 1, know how the process works, and No. 2, have friends on the inside,” Gregory said. 

He said he raised over a million dollars to run for office, “many times more than that” for nonprofit organizations and tens of millions in appropriations.

Clay and Iacono went through the same process over the following two days. Faculty can submit comments through March 27 when the decision is handed over to the board of trustees. 

Gregory might not get the job, but if he does, it will mark the end of a successful political career. He won both his elections in landslides. 

“If I’m fortunate enough to be selected, my plan is to serve as long as the board of trustees has confidence in me,” Gregory said. “President Probstfeld set a great example. She served in that job until she was ready to retire. That is the goal.”

Politics and law have been rewarding for Gregory, but he said this was a better opportunity to lead and impact the lives of more people and the community.  

So what’s his plan if he doesn’t get the job?

“I’m not sure. I’ll look at what the options are out there, but one thing that is certain is I will continue to serve the community. Whether that’s in elected office or not, I don’t know,” Gregory said. “Maybe I’ll run for state Senate or something else, but I will not be even considering that if I’m in this position. If I’m in this position, I’m in this position and that’s a hard stop on politics.”



Lesley Dwyer

Lesley Dwyer is a staff writer for East County and a graduate of the University of South Florida. After earning a bachelor’s degree in professional and technical writing, she freelanced for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Lesley has lived in the Sarasota area for over 25 years.

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