As I watch in amazement the presidential search unfolding at Florida State University, I have some thoughts-at-large I would like to share.
John Thrasher isn’t the only reason there is a dearth of applications — there are many others.
With Florida’s current Sunshine Laws governing this process, experts will tell you that presidents and other administrators at top tier universities will only put their name in the hat in such a public process if they are virtually or actually guaranteed the job.
There is a national lack of interest by academics seeking presidencies .
And how about all of the negative press FSU has received regarding its highly celebrated football team? Anyone want to clean up that mess?
What about FSU being listed (the only university in Florida on the list) as one of the 55 schools being looked at for Title IX compliance?
Additionally, according to a 2012 national survey by the American Council on Education, 20 percent of college presidents in the United States now come from fields outside academia.
And there’s that concern about future state funding and tuition increase options in our state all the while working those out with a tough, hands-on Legislature.
By-the-way, FSU still needs to raise an additional 500 billion dollars (that’s a 5 with 11 “0’s added at the end!) in the near term for its capital campaign!
And what about the high school like behavior of the faculty union? They sent this out a few days ago (entire email posted below):
Here is some information to post on an anonymous web site, to use in creating a YouTube video, or for any other reason. (I dug up some of this; most was provided by two wonderful anonymous sources who have worked in and around the Capitol.) I think especially since John Thrasher has said that he will wait until his interview to provide a CV, we should organize an effort to write a CV for him and spread it around. Happy reading! I’ll see most of you tomorrow.”
Come on, grow up! No wonder people are hesitating to apply. If they’ve ever been on the other side of a union issue, it seems there is a good chance there will be an attempt to humiliate and ridicule them during the application process.
It was beginning to be my belief that nasty, petty, rude and combative campaigns were the monopoly of politics. Well, they seem to be alive and well in the Academy!
Go ahead and want someone other than John Thrasher, but do it on the high road. No one can argue with all the good he has done for FSU as the Chairman of its Board of Trustees and in his work on their behalf in the Legislature. Why insult him?
If you can’t treat your friends a little nicer during this search, good luck on your journey to national prominence!
John Thrasher has repeatedly voted for hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts to the state’s higher education budget.
- The cuts in 2012 amounted to$300 million. ( HB 5001,Thrasher: Y)
- The cuts in 2011 were $140 million. This article also highlights the fact that FSU expects to cut 50 faculty members as a result of this budget. ( SB 2000, Thrasher: Y)
Meanwhile, Thrasher also supported massive tax breaks for businesses, even those based out of state.
- In 2012, he voted for HB 7087, which created $124 million in business tax breaks.
- Thrasher opposed closing a loophole allowing online retailers based out-of-state to avoid paying Florida’s 6% sales tax. This loophole results in hundreds of millions of lost revenue (between $280 and $800 million annually, depending on the study). I’d be careful when talking about this to not get into the weeds on specifics though, as in reality this tax would be collected from FL taxpayers.
- In 2008, He was a registered lobbyist for the Associated Industries of Florida (see p. 30) [or this link to the official lobbyist directory for 2008 (see p. 266)], which opposed HB 1237, sponsored by Dan Gelber. That bill would have closed tax loopholes for non-Florida businesses operating in Florida, and used the (est. $400 million) revenue to fund higher education.
John Thrasher has twice opposed tenure at the K-12 level (the first time, it was vetoed by Gov. Crist; the second time, it was approved by Gov. Scott)
- He sponsored the original SB 6 in 2010 ( here’s a punch list of all the bad things it aimed to do,here’s the page proving Thrasher was a co-sponsor), which even his hometown paper called “ill-conceived” and “bullied through the Legislature”
John Thrasher has come under fire for ethical issues multiple times.
- Thrasher signed a secret severance package with disgraced former RPOF chair Jim Greer “to keep his mouth shut.” Lots more out there on this if you google around.
- Thrasher was found by the FL Commission on Ethics to have violated state ethics laws on two separate occasions.
To his credit, he (now-ironically) challenged the ethics of going from the legislature to academic administration.
- In 2012, Thrasher proposed legislation to “halt the revolving door between the Legislature and state universities or colleges.”
FSU is already under fire nationally for taking money from the Koch Brothers in exchange for hiring their preferred economics professors. How would it look to have a President who has accepted thousands in contributions from Koch Industries? This hilarious Dan Ruth column gives the basic rundown on the Koch/FSU connection. Here’s some hard data:
- 2012 Q1 01/09/2012 500.00 KOCH INDUSTRIES, INC. 4111 E 37TH ST N WICHITA, KS 97220 MANAGEMENT CO CHE
- 2012 G3 10/11/2012 500.00 KOCH INDUSTRIES, INC. 4111 E 37TH ST N WICHITA, KS 97220 MANAGEMENT CO CHE
- 2014 Q1 02/08/2014 1,000.00 KOCH INDUSTRIES, INC 4111 E 37TH ST N WICHITA, KS 67220 MANUFACTURING CO CHE
Thrasher’s leadership style was criticized while he was House Speaker. These quotes suggest that Thrasher doesn’t have temperament to be a university president.
- ”I’m a little fearful of his temper,”said then-State Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
- “John Thrasher of Orange Park bestrides the Florida House of Representatives like a Southern-accented Caesar.” “Thrasher seems impatient with the deliberative, compromising nature of the legislative process.” (see attached)
- Rep. Stacy Ritter, D-Coral Springs, likened the House leadership to imperial Russia “and we’re all serfs.” She dubbed Thrasher “Czar Ivan,” and sharply criticized his “one-sided agenda,” (see attached)