State Senator John Thrasher Submits Resume To FSU Presidential Search Committee

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By: Eyewitness News
May 29, 2014 - 11:30pm

Tallahassee, FL - State Senator John Thrasher officially submitted his cover letter and resume to the FSU Presidential Search Committee Thursday evening.

You can read his cover letter and resume above.


By: Andy Alcock
May 27, 2014 - 6pm

Two of Florida's leading public universities are taking different paths to choose a president.

Florida State's process is currently narrowed down to interviewing one candidate, State Senator John Thrasher of St. Augustine.

Two days after FSU leaders made that decision, University of Florida leaders modified their search process.

In April, after what turned out to be his unsuccessful move to split the FAMU-FSU Engineering School, we asked Thrasher if he was a candidate for FSU president.

Thrasher: "I'm a state senator from district 6, I continue to be that, filed for re-election, that's where I am."

Reporter: "Are you interested in the job?"

Thrasher: "That's where I am, I just answered your question."

Fast forward to last week and FSU leaders decided they will interview Thrasher for the president's job next month.

"Someone as strong as Senator Thrasher is in the wings, some people may elect not to apply," said Thrasher's colleague Senator Bill Montford of Tallahassee.

"I don't think that the search was open long enough to see if people would apply," said Jennifer Proffitt of FSU's Chapter of the United Faculty of Floria. "In fact, a day later someone else applied," she said.

That new candidate is Representative Michelle Rehwinkel-Vasilinda.

"And I really wanted to make sure that my community had a choice and I really feel like I could do an excellent job," said Rehwinkel-Vasilinda.

Two days after it was decided Thrasher would get the first and potentially only interview for president, the University of Florida amended its own presidential search criteria.

At the top of the new list is a distinguished academic career.

According to a published report, UF leaders specifically mentioned at that meeting they would not follow the FSU search path.

"We need a more open, fair and transparent process before anyone else can apply," said Proffitt.

"If I were on the search committee, I know I would certainly look very favorably upon Thrasher's application," said Montford.

Leon County Commissioner Bill Proctor has sent a letter to FSU's Board of Trustees opposing Thrasher's candidacy.

Proctor calls Thrasher a divisive and polarizing figure with a name "more explosive than a 4th of July fireworks show."


UPDATE May 22, 2014 11:10 p.m.
By: James Buechele

Representative Rehwinkel Vasilinda announced Thursday her intention to apply for the open president position at Florida State. It's a decision that came with a lot of thought especially from her family.

"My daughter and my mother they came to me and said you know I think you oughta put your hat in the ring and I said well okay," said the representative. "They thought it was time for a woman."

The announcement comes after another Florida politician's name has surfaced: Sen. John Thrasher.

"The difference is I have actually higher education experience dealing with students, faculty, training faculty."


By: Eyewitness News
May 22, 2014 - 5pm

Tallahassee, FL - Eyewitness News has learned that State Representative Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda has entered the race to become Florida State University's next President.

Rehwinkel Vasilinda submitted her resume and materials to the firm hired to head the search for the University's next President.

We'll have more information on this story as it becomes available.


By: Lanetra Bennett
May 21, 2014

Tallahassee, FL - Florida Senator John Thrasher is now officially a candidate for the president's job at Florida State University. But, faculty and students don't agree with how it came about.

Cliff Madsen, an FSU faculty member and member of the FSU Presidential Search Advisory Committee, says, "John Thrasher has done a great deal for this institution. I don't think that there's any question at all that he loves this institution."

Other FSU faculty say that don't doubt Madsen's statement, but, say loyalty is not on the presidency criteria list.

During Wednesday's Presidential Search Committee meeting, faculty and students said it's not fair that Florida Senator John Thrasher's name had been rumored to be FSU's next leader when he hasn't submitted his resume or applied for the job.

"But, he did, through the back door, through the press, through rounding up letters of application that preceded his application. He's hijacked this process and I think the committee needs to stand up to that."

The committee voted Wednesday to have Thrasher turn in paperwork to allow him to move forward with on-campus interviews an go through the vetting and interview process as 'normal.'

Faculty member, Michael Bakan, says the due process is not accounted for. He says, "The chair of the committee, the consultants have decided that we are bringing in this candidate and not speaking for or against the candidate, but, that candidate should not be invited for an interview unless the search committee recommends that that be done and that has not happened. That is tremendously frustrating."

Faculty member and committee member, Jill Quadagno, says, "I don't know that he's the only viable candidate in the pool because of the lack of information."

The president of the search firm, Bill Funk, told the committee that it has been difficult to find qualified candidates. He says leaders have been reluctant to apply because of Thrasher's name floating around. Funk says potential applicants are concerned that the process would not be a leveled playing field because of Thrasher's prominence.

Faculty member Eric Walker had a solution to that problem. During the meeting he said, "Shut this thing down right now."

When asked what did he mean, he said, "To make a strong recommendation of Senator Thrasher that he take himself out of the mix -- as a service to the university."

The committee originally planned to not allow the public to speak at Wednesday's meeting. However, members ended up voting to add public comment to the agenda.

Several faculty members and students spoke out against Thrasher and the process by which the committee is allowing him to be a candidate. Students with groups such as Dream Defenders and Students for a Democratic Society, say they do not want Senator Thrasher to be FSU's next president, partly because of his attempts to split the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering.


UPDATED
By Lanetra Bennett
May 21, 2104
1:12pm

The presidential search committee has voted to make John Thrasher a candidate. The vote was 15 yes, 9 no, with all faculty and students on the committee voting no.

The committee is expected to have Thrasher's resume and all necessary materials by the next meeting June 11th.

The committee chairman says they will then schedule on campus interviews for Thrasher. The pool is still open, but the chairman says Thrasher is the most prominent candidate.

The committee is slated to schedule Senator Thrasher's on-campus interviews at the next search committee meeting on June 11th.

While Thrasher was referred to during Wednesday's meeting as the 'sole' candidate, the committee chairman says the position is still open to other candidates.


UPDATED
By Lanetra Bennett
May 21, 2014 12:36pm

Originally the committee said it wasn't going to allow the public to speak at today's meeting but members just voted to add public comment to the agenda.

A group of students is here to speak out against John Thrasher.
Some Faculty members are also urging the committee to say no.

Some faculty members are strongly pushing for someone in academia.

One professor says although leadership is a criteria for the search, leadership is not enough, candidates need academic experience .


By: Lanetra Bennett
May 21, 2014 - 12pm

Tallahassee, FL - The search firm hired to find Florida State University's next President says that Senator John Thrasher has had four nominations.

Thrasher told them that he is interested in the job, and that he plans to provide his resume to become a candidate.

The search firm says they have gotten concerns from potential candidates who say that Thrasher is casting a long shadow, making them feel like there is not a level playing field.

The search firm is recommending that the search committee moves forward with vetting Senator Thrasher.

One of the committee members said that Thrasher should take his name off the table "for the sake of the University". Another member points out that Thrasher has done a lot for FSU and loves the school.

Al Lawson says he's worked with Thrasher and calls him an outstanding individual. Lawson doesn't think the committee should ask thrasher to take name out of the hat.


News Release: FSU
Updated: May 20, 2014 - 5pm

Former FSU president Sandy D’Alemberte has nominated Senator Thrasher for president of FSU.

See attached letter.


By: Lanetra Bennett
April 23, 2014

Tallahassee, FL - Administrators at FSU say the real search can now begin. The Presidential Search Committee approved a plan Wednesday, including the criteria needed to be the next university president.

The search firm drafted a list of qualifications, characteristics, and attractors based on feedback from forums held at FSU. Wednesday, a committee member pulled out the list of 12 criteria approved back in 2009. Members say it worked with getting Dr. Eric Barron, now they hope it'll work with finding someone just as successful, to be the new president.

Administrators and students at FSU say their next university president will inherit a large, complex portfolio of responsibilities, challenges and opportunities.

Wednesday, the search firm hired to help select that person, presented the Presidential Search Committee with a draft of what's expected from stakeholders.

Search Committee Chairman Ed Burr says, "Hiring a university president is the most important job that the Board of Trustees can do. We're trusting lives of many students, lives, careers under the leadership of that president. It's a very serious process."

Some of the challenges and opportunities gathered from the feedback are: the continued pursuit of 'Top 25' public university status, working effectively with the Florida legislature, and enhancing the university's research infrastructure.

FSU student Jesse Marks "We're trying to foster student-run businesses and many of these things on campus and we've seen a lot of success forwarding those."

The list of qualifications and characteristics for a new president include: strong academic credentials, supporting inclusion of faculty, students, administrators, and staff, and persuasive fundraising skills.

Burr says, "High moral values, people who can understand and focus with students and participate with students, be available to students."

Former President Barron left FSU to head Penn State.

Ideally, many want a new president by the start of Fall semester, but, the search committee chairman says he's hesitant to set a hard time frame because he says finding the perfect leader is more important.

The committee's next meeting is scheduled for June 11th, but, members agreed to do a brief update meeting on the search in three to four weeks.


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