Open Forums Schedule for Presidential Candidates

By: Julie Montanaro; Lanetra Bennett Email
By: Julie Montanaro; Lanetra Bennett Email
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Update: FSU
September 11, 2014

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The four presidential candidates selected by Florida State University’s Presidential Search Advisory Committee (PSAC) will participate in open forums on campus beginning Monday, Sept. 15.

The four candidates will visit campus as follows:

  • Monday, Sept. 15 – State Sen. John Thrasher
  • Tuesday, Sept. 16 – Former Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at West Virginia University Michele G. Wheatly
  • Wednesday, Sept. 17 – Chancellor of the Colorado State University System Michael V. Martin
  • Friday, Sept. 19 – Vice President for Research and Economic Development at University of Alabama at Birmingham Richard Marchase
    Staff forums are scheduled each day from 9:30 to 10:45 a.m.; faculty forums from 1:30 to 2:45 p.m.; and student forums from 3 to 4:15 p.m. Each day will conclude with a campus and community reception from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.

    All forums and receptions will be held at the Augustus B. Turnbull III Florida State Conference Center, 555 W. Pensacola St., Tallahassee. Visit the presidential search website, presidentialsearch.fsu.edu, for room numbers and additional details.

    The order of candidate open forums was determined by candidate availability and travel considerations.

    Individuals attending forums will be asked to provide feedback to the PSAC by way of candidate evaluation forms due following the final forum Friday, Sept. 19.

    Following the open forums, the PSAC is scheduled to meet for the final time Monday, Sept. 22, to discuss and recommend no fewer than three finalists for consideration by the Florida State University Board of Trustees. The trustees will interview each recommended finalist on Tuesday, Sept. 23, before meeting to discuss and select the next president of Florida State University.

    The PSAC conducted 70-minute preliminary interviews with 11 candidates for university president Sept. 8-9. Upon the conclusion of those interviews, the committee selected the four to return to campus.


    By: Lanetra Bennett
    September 9, 2014

    Tallahassee, FL - Florida State's Presidential Search Committee has named four finalists after two days of interviews.

    The finalists are: Florida Senator John Thrasher, Michael Martin, Richard Marchase, and Michele Wheatly.

    The committee decided against including FSU Interim President Garnett Stokes.

    During his interview Tuesday, Senator John Thrasher recited a quote about the person who doesn't need a position is the right person because they're led by their heart. He told the search committee, "I don't have to have this job. I know some of you may be happy about that."

    Thrasher says he applied to be FSU's next president because he's the right one for the job.

    Protesters, who'd been very vocal in the past, sat quietly as Thrasher addressed their concerns that he doesn't have a background in academics.

    He says, "I've negotiated billions of dollars of money for this university system and this particular university. That takes some doing, that takes some teaching of understanding. So, while I'm not the traditional academic, I don't think that you can say that I haven't had an opportunity to understand what teaching other people is about."

    Thrasher was questioned about the controversial move to pursue separating the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering. He says he's been told by at least three former FSU presidents that the joint program has not been working well over the years.

    "If we want Florida State University to move ahead in the S.T.E.M. areas, in particular engineering areas, we probably need to understand that there are some issues and problems." He says.

    Thrasher says a study has been ordered to look at the College of Engineering. He says it'll be presented to the Florida Board of Governors in January.

    Four other candidates also interviewed Tuesday. FSU's interim president, Garnett Stokes, was one of them. She says, "I know what higher education can do. At Florida State University, I believe we do it better than nearly anyone in the country."

    A motion was made Tuesday afternoon to make Stokes a finalist instead of Thrasher, but, it did not get a second.

    Beginning Monday, September 15th, the four candidates will participate in a series of open forums on campus with faculty, students, staff and community groups. The forums are open to all members of each constituent group.


    Update
    September 9, 2014 at 5:50 p.m.

    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State University’s Presidential Search Advisory Committee (PSAC) invited four candidates to meet with university stakeholders beginning Monday, Sept. 15.

    The four candidates selected are:

  • Richard Marchase – Vice President for Research and Economic Development at University of Alabama at Birmingham

  • Michael V. Martin – Chancellor of the Colorado State University System

  • John E. Thrasher – State Senator of Florida

  • Michele G. Wheatly – Former Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at West Virginia University
  • The four candidates will participate in a series of open forums on campus with faculty, students, staff and community groups. The forums are open to all members of each constituent group. Individuals attending forums will be asked to provide feedback to the PSAC by way of candidate evaluation forms due Friday, Sept. 19.

    The order of candidate open forums will be determined based on travel considerations and candidate availability. Dates, times and locations will be made available on the presidential search website, presidentialsearch.fsu.edu, as soon as those details are finalized.

    The PSAC conducted 70-minute preliminary interviews with 11 candidates for university president Sept. 8-9. Immediately following the conclusion of those interviews, the committee selected the four to participate in the forums after an extensive discussion.

    Following the open forums, the PSAC is scheduled to meet for the final time Monday, Sept. 22, to discuss and recommend no fewer than three finalists for consideration by the Florida State University Board of Trustees. The trustees will interview each recommended finalist on Tuesday, Sept. 23, before meeting to discuss and select the next president of Florida State University.


    News Release
    September 9, 2014

    Senator John Thrasher, Michael Martin, Marchase, Michele Wheatley were all named finalists. We're still waiting to hear if Interim President Garnett Stokes will be selected.


    News Release
    By: Lanetra Bennett
    September 9, 2014 at 9:35 a.m.

    First interview just finished. John Thrasher is next after 10 minute break. I see protesters waiting outside of the room with a box of signs. They told me they will be coming inside of the interview room.


    News Release
    By: Lanetra Bennett
    September 9, 2014

    The second day of candidate interviews has begun. Six candidates interviewed yesterday, the remaining five semi-finalists will face the search committee today.

    The first interview began at 8:30 a.m. with Richard Marchase. Marchase is the Vice President for Research and Economic Development at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He is the only candidate that is not doing his interview in person at the Turnbull Center at FSU. Marchase is interviewing via video conference because he is in Japan on business.

    Senator John Thrasher's interview is scheduled for roughly around 9:50 a.m. The committee chairman opened this morning's meeting by letting members know that a large crowd is expected to show up. He says he expects attendees to be respectful but will remind them to do so.

    Last Friday, several protesters had to be escorted out during the search committee meeting. Protesters are against Thrasher being a candidate partly because the politician does not have a background in academia.
    After the last interview, which is expected to be around 3:30 p.m., there will be time given for public comment. The committee will then have a discussion on their top 3 to 5 candidates. The chairman says the goal is to choose 3 or 4 finalists to return to campus next week for follow-up interviews.


    News Release
    By: Lanetra Bennett
    September 8, 2014

    Tallahassee, FL - Florida State University is a step closer to selecting a new president. Search committee members had extensive interviews today with the candidates they picked as the semi-finalists on Friday.

    Interviews will be held today and tomorrow. The first six out of the eleven candidates went before the search committee today.

    Each one was asked the same six questions. They had an hour and ten minutes to answer and give their best sell on why they should be the top Seminole.

    Candidate Michael Amiridis, the executive vice president for Academic Affairs and Provost at the University of South Carolina, says, "This is what is attractive to me, is the ability to build. It is the ability to move the institution forward, not just to manage what exists here."

    Kate Miller, the dean of the College of Geosciences at Texas A&M University, says, "I have a real passion for higher education. You have to be passionate about what you do to be a president because you work hard, a lot of long hours; and I'm passionate about higher education, especially public higher education."

    John Paul Jones, the dean of the College of Social Sand Behavioral Sciences at the University of Arizona, says, "I'm a person who likes to innovate, collaborate, and build. So, from my perspective, this is a tremendous opportunity."

    Candidates were asked a range of questions from fundraising and student progress, to athletics.

    Arthur Ellis, the Provost at the City University of Hong Kong, says, "That the welfare of the student athletes is being attended to and that the reputation of the university is protected. I would be committed to doing all of that."

    Michael Martin, the chancellor of the Colorado State University System, says, "I think you never stop thinking about the students and everyone who serves them. I think you continue to build the research portfolio and undergraduate portfolio."

    Daniel Fogel, the former president of the University of Vermont, says, "It will take a lot of work. It will take someone very canny, with very deep experience of whole institutions and with staying power."

    The remaining five candidates will interview Tuesday starting at 8 a.m.

    Controversial candidate -- Senator John Thrasher -- is scheduled to go before the committee at 9:50. FSU Interim President Garnett Stokes is also scheduled for Tuesday.

    Immediately after the interviews, the committee will choose at least three finalists to come back for more interviews.

    The full list of candidates is below.


    Update
    By: Lanetra Bennett
    September 8, 2014

    The interview process started at 8:00 a.m. instead of the original 8:30 a.m. start to accommodate scheduling. The search committee met at 7:30 a.m. and the first candidate interview, Michael Armiridis, is underway. Armiridis is the executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost at the University of South Carolina.

    Each interview is scheduled for an hour and 10 minutes, with a ten minute break between each interview.

    The committee chairman will ask an opening question to allow each candidate to introduce themselves and say why they want to be the next president at FSU. Each candidate will be asked six universal questions: those pertain to becoming top 25 university, the importance of fundraising, shared governance, athletics, growth and undergraduate students, and diversity. Each candidate will then be allowed to give closing statements.

    Six candidates are scheduled for today, ending at 4:20 p.m. Five candidates are scheduled for tomorrow.

    Senator John Thrasher is scheduled for Tuesday from 9:50-11:00. Interim FSU President Dr. Garnett Stokes is scheduled for 1:05-2:15 Tuesday.


    By: Lanetra Bennett
    September 5, 2014

    Tallahassee, FL - Police escorted protesters out after a group of students made a scene. It ultimately put a halt to a meeting of the FSU Presidential Search Committee.

    Protesters demanded change in the structure of the committee, but, that attempt failed. So did an attempt to keep Senator John Thrasher off the list of finalists.

    Once the resumed after about an half hour, FSU faculty and search committee member Dr. Eric Walker brought up the controversy surrounding Senator John Thrasher being a candidate to be FSU's new president.

    He suggested Thrasher not be considered for the job, but, that motion failed.

    Dr. Walker says, "I fear that the pool would be seriously compromised if we continue to keep Senator Thrasher's candidacy on the table. There are going to be people who are going to read that as a pre-determined outcome."

    The committee voted on a final list of eleven candidates. State Representative Michelle Rehwinkle-Vasilinda and Florida Supreme Court Justice Ricky Polston were not on the list. FSU's interim president, Garnett Stokes, and Senator Thrasher were.

    Former State Representative Al Lawson is on the search committee. He says he supports Sen. Thrasher as a viable candidate. He says, "I think it would be very, very, bad for us to come to a selection committee and eliminate a person who has steered hundreds of millions of dollars to the university."

    Interviews with the eleven finalists will be held Monday and Tuesday. The committee will select three or four to return the week of September 15th for a series of individual open forums.

    Trustees will interview recommended finalists on September 23rd, and select the next president of Florida State University.

    The protesters were asking that the committee be restructured to include 1/3 students, 1/3 faculty, and 1/3 outside representatives. The motion by the student representative on the committee, Seve Kim, did not pass. Counsel for the committee says only the FSU Board of Trustees has the authority to change the committee. Committee members voiced concern that requesting the BOT to do so would delay the process and cause candidates to drop out.

    The full list of finalists is posted below


    Update: WCTV Eyewitness News
    September 5, 2014 2:30 p.m.

    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The FSU presidential search committee has named 11 finalists for the position.

    FSU Presidential Search Finalists:


    • Michael D. Amiridis – Provost at University of South Carolina
    • Arthur B. Ellis – Provost and Professor of Chemistry at City University of Hong Kong
    • Daniel Mark Fogel – Professor of English at University of Vermont
    • J. Murray Gibson – Founding Dean in the College of Science at Northeastern University
    • John Paul Jones III – Dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at University of Arizona
    • Richard Marchase – Vice President for Research and Economic Development at University of Alabama at Birmingham
    • Michael V. Martin – Chancellor of the Colorado State University System
    • Kate C. Miller – Dean of the College of Geosciences at Texas A&M University
    • Garnett S. Stokes – Interim President at Florida State University
    • John E. Thrasher – State Senator of Florida
    • Michele G. Wheatly – Former Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at West Virginia University


    The committee will meet at 7:30 a.m. on Monday, September 8. The first interview will begin at 8:30 a.m.. Interviews will be held Monday and Tuesday. A specific schedule of interviews is said to be in the works.


    Update: WCTV Eyewitness News
    September 5, 2014 1:15 p.m.

    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- A meeting to choose the finalists in the search for Florida State University's next president has resumed following an interruption by protesters this morning.

    The remaining protesters had quietly walked out of the room in a single file line but it was unclear whether they were asked to leave or they left voluntarily.

    A consultant was giving a list of recommended candidates via phone and reviewing the biography and credentials of each candidate. The committee is expected to select finalists to interview starting early next week.

    The consultant did name Senator John Thrasher as one of the recommended candidates. The consultant said that Thrasher has strong leadership abilities as well as extensive knowledge of FSU and the state of Florida.

    Interim president Garnett Stokes was also recommended for what the consultant described as creativity and energy.

    Shortly before 12:30 p.m. protesters had quietly entered the meeting again.


    Update: WCTV Eyewitness News
    September 5, 2014 12 p.m.

    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- A meeting to choose the finalists in the FSU presidential search was suspended due to student protests.

    Students in attendance were asked to be quiet and police officers escorted two protesters out of the room before a committee passed a motion to suspend the meeting.

    A little over an hour of the meeting was spent on public comments. More than a dozen people spoke asking for more student and faculty representation on the search committee.

    A student representative made a motion to restructure the committee to reflect a demand to include representation of one-third student, one-third faculty and one-third other on the committee but the motion failed.

    The committee took a break and is expected to resume at 12:15 p.m.

    WCTV is at the scene and will update this story as more details become available



    September 5, 2014

    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- About 30 students and a few Florida State faculty gathered in front of the Westcott building for a rally as they prepared to march to the presidential search committee meeting.

    Students began to question the process after a May 21 meeting where Senator Thrasher's application was put into high gear because of a 64% corporate and political interest vote.

    Students and faculty only make up 26% combined.

    FSU senior Gerry Funt says they want to bring attention to their concerns.

    "We're at the search committee meeting is to raise awareness for the issues that we see with the search and to have everyone know and to show the PSAC that we're not willing to accept the way that the search is going, we feel as though the search has been undemocratic, nontransparent, we feel as though it has been illegitimate, and we don't want to accept a president who has been chosen through an illegitimate search," said Funt.

    Once students got to the Turnbull Conference Center they were asked to stand in the back if they were going to hold their signs.


    September 4, 2014
    By Julie Montanaro

    On the eve of a search committee naming its finalists for FSU president comes a full page newspaper ad blasting presidential hopeful John Thrasher.

    The ad covers page 4A and straight up says "John Thrasher Should Not Be FSU's Next President."

    "It doesn't necessarily surprise me that someone would take out an ad in a search like this just because it seems like the only way any of us could be heard is by going through as many channels as possible," said FSU Student Jerry Funt, with the FSU Progress Coalition.

    "I don't think that the presidential race for university ... should put a negative ad. It's a little - you know - it's not appropriate, in my opinion," said FSU Student Charles Levy.

    The ad in the Tallahassee Democrat blasts Thrasher for a lack of academic credentials, previous ethics complaints and legislative votes on issues like tenure and drug testing.

    The ad was sponsored by "Concerned FSU Supporters." We haven't confirmed who wrote it, but Dr. Ray Bellamy - a Tallahassee doctor and FSU alum - confirms he helped to pay for it.

    He said many people are afraid to speak up and people "needed to know."

    "This isn't a selection," Bellamy said, "It's an anointing. If we can't take a significant role in the selection process, all we're left with is public opinion."

    Senator John Thrasher - called the ad "concerning" and claims it has numerous inaccuracies.

    In a statement Thrasher said, "If I am selected as a finalist by the search committee tomorrow, I will proudly make myself available for any and all questions by the search committee. I believe that is the appropriate place to answer questions about my qualifications and ability to this important job - out in the open, with transparency and not in an anonymous fashion."

    Thrasher is one of 39 applicants for the FSU President's job. The search committee is expected to name about a half dozen finalists tomorrow who'll be invited for interviews.

    Several campus groups have already announced they intend to protest before the meeting and demand the committee be restructured to include more student and faculty representation.

    The groups are planning to meet at 9:30 and march from Westcott to the Turnbull Center.


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