Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

FSU Will Interview Thrasher for Top Job; Veteran Politician Is Only Serious Candidate for School President

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

FSU Will Interview Thrasher for Top Job; Veteran Politician Is Only Serious Candidate for School President

Article excerpt

Byline: Meredith Rutland

A controversial search for a new Florida State University president took a heated turn Wednesday when the committee decided to stop looking while it interviews Sen. John Thrasher, a political favorite for the job.

The hunt for the university's next leader has pitted business-minded committee members, who consider Thrasher an influential fundraiser, against faculty and students who prefer a president more familiar with academia.

The committee's 15-9 vote allows it to suspend the search until it interviews Thrasher, a Republican from St. Augustine, and decides if he's best for the job. Thrasher is the first, and so far only, serious candidate.

A consultant told the committee that the university was having trouble attracting qualified candidates due to the perception that Thrasher was going to get the job.

Thrasher, an FSU alumnus and a vocal supporter of funding for FSU within the Legislature, began expressing interest in the presidency soon after former president Eric Barron left in April to become Penn State University's president.

"We could run this process for 60 or 90 days and end up with Sen. Thrasher and some unqualified candidates, and we felt that wouldn't be an adequate search for this university," said Ed Burr, chairman of the search committee and a member of FSU's Board of Trustees.

Jennifer Proffitt, president of the FSU teacher's union, said faculty felt the committee was skirting its purpose by selecting a finalist before any formal nominations were made.

"We're very disappointed that the process wasn't the open, transparent and fair process that was promised," she said. "To only look at one candidate and vote up or down, it seems like a done deal, and I hope that it's not."

FSU Faculty Senate President Gary Tyson said he's also concerned, noting Thrasher hasn't officially applied for the job yet and that the process is moving forward despite dissenting votes from the students and faculty on the committee. …

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