DeSantis appoints four members to College of Central Florida’s Board of Trustees


File Photo: The Ewers Century Center at the College of Central Florida campus in Ocala, Fla. on Tuesday, June 30, 2020. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 2020.

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Posted September 2, 2022 | By Caroline Brauchler
caroline@ocalagazette.com

Governor Ron DeSantis appointed four members—three new and one returning—to the College of Central Florida’s Board of Trustees for the next term.

Russell Branson, Fredrick Roberts Jr., Charlie Stone and Michael Torres will join Joyce Brancato, Bobby Durrance and Bill Edgar to govern the college and ensure its stakeholders.

“We welcome our new board members and appreciate the service of our returning board member—all who have demonstrated commitment to our community,” said CF President Jim Henningsen via press release. “They have broad experience in workforce, health care, finance and more, and we look forward to their leadership in impacting our college, students and community.”

Branson, the current chair of the CF Board of Trustees, earned a bachelor’s degree in art and finance from Florida State University and a graduate degree in banking from Louisiana State University.

“He is the past chairman of the Marion County Housing Finance Authority and currently holds board positions at the Chamber of Economic Partnership of Marion County, Childhood Development Services, the Southeastern Youth Fair and the State of Florida Board for the Prevention Network,” according to CF.

Lois Brauckmuller, the director of marketing and public relations at CF, said that the diverse backgrounds of each candidate will allow for the board to be more rounded and well-informed when making cost-effective policy decisions appropriate to the Florida College System institution’s mission, a responsibility of the board which adheres to Florida Statute.

“Board members bring diverse experiences from a variety of industries to help guide the college,” Brauckmuller said. “They have proven leadership skills that can be applied to an institution of higher learning. Best practices for business translate across industries to ensure that the best educational experience is provided to our students.”

Roberts, an Ocala attorney, has previously served on the CF Foundation Board of Directors. He earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Florida and his juris doctor from Stetson University.

“He is a board member for Oak Hammock at the University of Florida and a member of the Marion County Bar Association,” according to CF.

Students should not expect for this change within the board to affect their learning experience—the new members will be committed to ensuring the highest quality of education for those attending the college, Brauckmuller said.

“In addition to being attuned to the needs of our workforce, board members are part of our community and our culture,” she said. “They have the best interests of our students at heart.”

Like Roberts, Stone is also a previous member of the CF Foundation Board of Directors. Stone is the owner and president of Stone Petroleum Products, Inc.

“He was a member of the Florida House of Representatives from 2012-2020 and a Marion County Commissioner from 2002-2012,” according to CF. “Stone is a member of the Ocala Metro Chamber and Economic Partnership.”

The last new appointee, Torres, earned a certificate in military leadership from Air War College, a master’s degree in business administration from Touro University International and a doctorate in medicine from Spartan Health Sciences University.

“Torres, from Ocala, is the vice president and chief medical officer of Advent Health,” according to CF. “He is a veteran of the United States Air Force.”

All gubernatorial appointments are made in coordination with the Appointments Office, which supports the governor in the responsibility to choose appropriately qualified individuals to leadership roles throughout the state.

As for CF, the college hopes that it will move forward with the expected standard of excellence and that its newest Board of Trustees members settle into their roles comfortably, Brauckmuller said.

“The college is committed to providing the highest quality educational experience for students,” she said. “We are looking forward to welcoming our new board members to join us in continuing our record of excellence as we work to transform the lives of our students and our community.”