FSU prez search moves forward, but not with haste
John B. Hicks, a senior consultant with Academic Search Inc., who helped FSU officials find their medical school and business school deans, will search the country for someone to replace longtime president T.K. Wetherell. The cost is $75,000, less than what the other five search firms considered were asking.
Wetherell recently announced plans to retire in coming months.
Hicks and his firm recently found a president for Kansas State University, and in the past three years has conducted 75 searched for universities Depaul, George Washington and the University of Arizona.
"They know where to go to find good and qualified candidates," FSU general counsel Betty Steffens told trustees during the conference call.
"I am impressed with his track record, with the work he has done," echoed trustees chairman Jim Smith. "He has quite a good understanding of Florida State University. And I asked him, and he is quite comfortable that Florida State will be able to attract quality candidates."
Smith said he wants Hicks to "really do a sweep" of AAU universities "to see if there is a provost or someone we should look at." UF is currently the only Florida university in the Association of American Universities, an invitation-only group of 62 institutions. But FSU, under Wetherell's leadership, has worked to boost FSU's research profile and other qualities that might result in an AAU invitation.
"Our aspirations now are to become an AAU university," said trustee Andrew Haggard. "This is the start of our next chapter, to get there. This is the way to start off -- to get a highly qualified, academic person, and a fundraiser."
Trustees agreed they want to honor Wetherell's desire to retire by January -- but they do not want to rush the search for such an important post.
"Obviously, this will be the most important thing this board will do," Smith said. "I'm excited about the opportunity we have to make a real difference."
Smith also told trustees that retiring Sen. Mel Martinez, contrary to persistent rumors, is not interested in the job. Martinez wrote Wetherell last week saying so.