FSU Faculty Express Concern Over Presidential Search

By: Lanetra Bennett
June 25, 2014

Tallahassee, FL - They've been saying it since day one; and Wednesday was no different. Faculty members at Florida State University want a leader from academia.

Many people weren't happy with how the search was going for FSU's next president, particularly Senator John Thrasher and other politicians being candidates.

Now, there's a new search firm in charge. It's Storbeck/Pimentel & Associates (SPA). But, faculty members say they don't share the same enthusiasm as the firm does in hiring someone they agree with.

The new search firm in charge of finding FSU's next president says all of the recent drama surrounding the search under the previous firm won't matter to potential candidates.

But, Joseph Hellweg, an associate professor in the FSU Religion Department, disagrees. He says, "I think the history of the process does matter to us. To some extent we still feel that the process is already flawed because certain members of the committee voted on a process that was not transparent to begin with and those members of the committee still sit on the committee."

During an open forum Wednesday, FSU faculty members repeated their previous concerns of wanting their next president to have an academic background.

Hellweg says FSU needs a leader that wouldn't ignore the importance of the arts, humanities, and social sciences.

Many say a university president that is not in politics is even better. Sarah Cohen with the FSU College of Music, says, "I think one reason why most of us are very suspicious of this process is because in the very recent past, we have had a politician as a president. That's why it seemed very clear to us at the time that the fix was in."

Earle Klay, the director of the Askew School of Public
Administration and Policy, says the university is better than its reputation. He says the reputation is that it's a 'southern football school.' He says, "A southern football university is a place where it's dominated by good ole boy politics, not by a primary concern for academic excellence. That's what we were concerned about, that the process seemed to have been moving in the direction of what you'd expect of good ole boy politics."

The search firm manager, Alberto Pimentel, says Senator Thrasher's name will remain on the table, saying that anyone who previously applied will be considered under this new search.

He ensured faculty that the process will be fair.

The firm says they expect to have the best candidate named in September.

An open forum was also held Tuesday for students and community members.

Pimentel encourages faculty and those interested to nominate candidates. Nominations can be submitted at http://presidentialsearch.fsu.edu/.

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