Edison picks next president, promises "new day"
FORT MYERS - Edison State College has its new president and for many it's a familiar face.
A little over four months after Dr. Ken Walker was fired for presiding over a string of scandals at Edison the board of trustees turned the reigns over to Dr. Jeffrey Allbritten, who used to be the Collier campus president.
"I'm very pleased to be the one selected," Allbritten said after learning he was unanimously selected. "I'm very happy."
For Allbritten, this is a homecoming. From 2003-2011, he served as the Collier campus president under Walker, who was fired back in January.
"I am different," said Allbritten. "I have a different way of thinking. I have different philosophies and I'll bring those day one."
Allbritten left Edison last year to take a job as president of Macon State College in Georgia. But he kept his Naples house and his roots in southwest Florida.
"I won't let them down," said Allbritten.
The day began around 8 a.m. After a final round of interviews with each of the three finalists, it took the board of trustees just 30 minutes to pick Allbritten in a unanimous vote.
"I think he is new, he is fresh," said board chair Ann Berlam. "He has some experience with the local level that the other candidates didn't have."
"I think the board made a good choice," said outspoken faculty member Marty Ambrose. "And I think all their reasons were really valid. I think we're just excited to have a new president."
But not everyone's excited. Two weeks ago, faculty member Russell Swanson expressed concern. Others have called his association with the college a "double-edged sword."
"I just think it would look bad," said Swanson, "if we went back to leadership that we had before when we had the opportunity to go forward with a clean slate."
But Allbritten says he can move forward with a clean slate. He wants to hire an internal auditor to track spending while emphasizing accountability.
"How would you respond to faculty that have concerns that your time at the college isn't a plus?," asked Fox 4 reporter Matt Grant.
"I'd say watch me move forward," said Allbritten. "I understand the concerns. We'll prove to them that this is a new day."