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Jeff Atwater to Leave CFO Post for FAU Job After Legislative Session

February 10, 2017 - 12:45pm
Jeff Atwater
Jeff Atwater

While state CFO Jeff Atwater came up short in his bid to be president of Florida Atlantic University (FAU), he will be bowing out of political life to join that school as vice president of strategic initiatives and CFO after the upcoming legislative session. 

According to a release sent out from the state CFO’S office on Friday afternoon, “in this capacity Atwater will lead strategic initiatives and economic development opportunities for FAU as well as manage the University’s finances and budget.”

As he made the announcement, Atwater praised FAU President John Kelly who was named to that position at the start of 2014. During that presidential search. Atwater had thrown in his name in the mix to lead FAU. 
“President Kelly has assembled a truly visionary executive leadership team and faculty, who are ideally positioned to move Florida Atlantic University into a higher echelon of academic achievement and recognition,” Atwater said. “I am honored to join FAU in such a significant capacity. While I would have preferred to embrace this opportunity at a later date, the timing of crucial University initiatives warranted an accelerated transition. In the near term I will remain focused on the Department of Financial Services’ legislative agenda through the conclusion of the session and provide Governor Scott sufficient time to thoughtfully consider the selection of Florida’s next CFO.”

As Atwater noted, Gov. Rick Scott will be able to name a replacement, much like he did when he picked Carlos Lopez-Cantera to serve as lieutenant governor after Jennifer Carroll resigned that position. 

Scott offered kind words for Atwater on Friday. 

“I got to know CFO Jeff Atwater well in 2010 on the campaign trail, and like me, he has been laser-focused on keeping the cost of living low for all Floridians,” Scott said. “I am proud that the state has paid down over $7.6 billion in debt since 2011 and CFO Atwater has aggressively helped us achieve that goal. He has fought to reduce burdensome regulations that hinder job growth, protect families from financial fraud and has traveled the state to return more than $1 billion in unclaimed property to its rightful owners.  CFO Atwater is a proud Floridian, father, husband and friend and I will truly miss working with him. The role of the CFO is incredibly important to our state and I will begin the process to appoint someone to serve Florida families.”

For his part, Atwater insisted FAU was a natural fit after his career as a banker and in politics. 
 “The South Florida community has long known of my enthusiastic support of Florida Atlantic University,” Atwater said. “First, as a banker, collaborating with the mission and economic engine of the University, then as a legislator representing their varied campuses and priorities and lastly as a parent of FAU students. President Kelly guides an inspired faculty and celebrates the growing achievements of the most diverse university student body in Florida. I am truly excited to accept responsibility for strategically developing public private partnerships and other initiatives to enhance the mission of the University while maintaining its historically sound financial management.

“As I prepare to exchange my service to the people of Florida from the position of their CFO to the position of CFO of one of the state’s most vibrant universities, I am grateful for the commitment of all those I have served with these past six years and all those I will serve with in the future,” Atwater added. 

Coming from well-established roots in the Sunshine State -- his great-grandfather was the legendary Napoleon Bonaparte Broward who served as governor from 1905 until 1909 -- Atwater was first elected to the Florida House in 2000 before moving over to the Senate in 2002, defeating then state Attorney General Bob Butterworth. Rising to become president of the Senate, Atwater represented parts of Broward and Palm Beach counties before being elected to the CFO post in 2010 and winning a second term four years later. 

Atwater’s name has surfaced in recent years as a possible U.S. Senate though he did not run in either 2012 or 2016. His name has also garnered some speculation as a possible gubernatorial candidate in 2018 when Scott faces term limits but this decision takes him out of the mix. ''


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