Florida GOP state senator John Thrasher has been named the president of Florida State University despite vocal objections from faculty, students, and other FSU community members.
Concerns were raised about Thrasher’s lack of academic credentials, The Florida Times-Union reports. The other three finalists for the position all had significant leadership experience at other universities.
According to The Times-Union, the state senator’s final interview with the FSU Board of Trustees Tuesday “came despite opposition to Thrasher from faculty and students expressing concern about the school’s reputation and the need for the next leader to have stellar academic credentials.”
Jennifer Proffitt, the president of the FSU chapter of the United Faculty of Florida, told The Times-Union that “It’s clear [Thrasher] does not have the qualifications to lead a research university.”
Thrasher is a former Florida house speaker and chairman of the Republican Party of Florida. He graduated from FSU for both his undergraduate and law degrees.
The Times-Union reports that Thrasher had the opportunity to speak to hundreds of students and faculty last week at an open forum. Of the close to 700 responses collected after the talk, 11% gave Thrasher ‘good’ grades, while 87% gave him ‘not good’ or ‘below average’ marks,” according to The Times-Union.
Another criticism of Thrasher is his close connections to many of the FSU trustees — most were appointed by Florida governor Rick Scott, whose campaign for re-election is managed by Thrasher.
Much of the support for Thrasher comes from his fundraising abilities. According to The Miami Herald, “Supporters say Thrasher, 70, is the best person to help FSU reach its $US1 billion fundraising goal and its aspiration to become one of the top 25 public universities.”
The FSU Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday apparently had to be momentarily suspended after students protested Thrasher’s impending selection:
FSU officials are considering whether to remove a speaker who has ignored the time limit. She’s calling Thrasher an “overlord”
— Gary Fineout (@fineout) September 23, 2014
While views on the new president seemed split, many students voiced negative opinions on Twitter, angry over the decision:
If Jameis Winston was not enough of an embarrassment to FSU now we have John Thrasher to really make us look like a bunch of idiots
— Emily (@emilytherapper) September 23, 2014
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