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FSU trustees OK pay raise for John Thrasher

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Florida State University’s board of trustees on Friday approved a new pay package for President John Thrasher that includes a $90,000 bonus.

The full board unanimously OK’d a recommendation from the board’s compensation committee.

Thrasher, a former state lawmaker and lobbyist, also will get a bump in his base salary from $430,000 to $473,000, which includes a general 2.6 percent raise for faculty members.

He has been in charge of the Tallahassee-based university for about 11 months.

Thrasher, who once chaired Gov. Rick Scott’s re-election campaign, served in the Florida House of Representatives, rising to speaker in 1999, then was elected to the Senate in 2009.

Board Chair Ed Burr told his colleagues that Thrasher had gotten “outstanding” performance reviews, including for his handling of last year’s shooting on campus.

Myron May, 31, shot three people in and around the campus library on Nov. 20. No one was killed but one person was paralyzed. Police shot and killed May minutes later.

“There’s a lot of optimism” about the university, Burr said, adding that Thrasher had proven himself “the right person to lead” the school.

In his years in the Legislature, Thrasher – himself an FSU alumnus – helped steer millions of dollars in state money to the 164-year-old institution. The university’s medical school building is named after him.

Thrasher was the focus of controversy last year as a search committee looked for a successor to former President Eric Barron, who quit to lead Pennsylvania State University.

As The Tampa Tribune put it, critics said Thrasher “gamed the system by sending signals through back channels … that he was interested in the presidency.”

Faculty and student dissenters banded together to oppose his candidacy, showing up at one selection panel meeting with signs reading, among other things, “shame on all of you.”

“I’m appreciative and I assure you my grandchildren will be appreciative,” the 71-year-old Thrasher told the board Friday. “Y’all are an amazing group to work for … We’ll set our sights even higher next year.”

Thrasher now ranks fifth in base salary among the state’s university presidents, and he is eighth among those presidents in overall compensation, Burr said.

Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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