NAPLES — Three Naples businessmen are among five people appointed Thursday by Gov. Rick Scott to the Board of Governors that oversees Florida's 12 state universities.
Appointed were two well-known Naples hospital executives — Health Management Associates' Alan Levine and Edward Morton, who retired from the NCH Healthcare System. The third Naples appointee is Ned C. Lautenbach, a corporate executive and investment board member.
With the appointments, Scott has chosen nearly a majority of the 17-member Board of Governors. In all five cases, they fill seats that were vacant or the university system board member didn't apply for reappointment.
Levine has served on the University of Florida board of trustees since February 2011 and will resign from that post for his new appointment.
"Higher education is transforming right before our eyes and there is hardly anything more important to our state than having a robust education system," he said Thursday.
Levine said he is a product of the state university system and feels strongly about giving back to it in anyway he can.
"I'm very passionate about it," he said.
Morton, who now serves on the board of trustees for Florida Gulf Coast University in Estero, couldn't be reached for comment Thursday night. He has been critical of the state for not providing fair funding to the university, and last year voted twice against tuition hikes of 14 and 15 percent.
"It is good for all of Southwest Florida to have a governor from this region," FGCU President Wilson Bradshaw said. "I have no doubt that he (Morton) will continue to advocate not just for FGCU but for the entire university system."
The appointments made Thursday:
Levine, 45, is the former head of the Agency for Health Care Administration in Florida. Levine, who helped craft Scott's health-care agenda, is the senior vice president and Florida president of HMA. Levine's term on the board expires in January 2020.
Morton, 65, was a health-care executive for years — serving as chief financial officer and chief executive of NCH Healthcare System until 2006 — and now is a partner with Wasmer Schroeder & Co., a Naples investment advisory firm. Morton's term will last until January 2020.
Lautenbach, 68, sits on the boards of Fidelity Investments and Eaton Corp. and has a master's degree from Harvard. He is a retired partner from Clayton, Dubilier & Rice who previously spent 30 years with IBM, where he served as vice president of sales and services.
Harry "Wayne" Huizenga Jr., 51, the president of Rybovich Boat Co. and Huizenga Holdings Inc., is the son of a former owner of several Miami-area sports teams. Huizenga's term will last until January 2020.
Wendy S. Link, 48, chairs Florida Health Kids Corp. and is a member of the Palm Beach State College District Board of Trustees. The Palm Beach Gardens lawyer's term runs until January 2020.
The appointments are subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate. Scott will need to appoint trustees to replace Levine and Morton on their college boards.