Career academics line up to challenge Thrasher for FSU presidency
State Sen. John Thrasher may not be the only front-runner for the Florida State University presidency for long.
Several people who have served in top jobs at universities across the nation waited until just before a midnight deadline to apply to become FSU's next leader.
It was just as the school's new search firm had predicted, contradicting advice from the first search consultant that Thrasher's candidacy was scaring off others from vying for the job.
Among the 12 14 (two names were added later in the day) candidates who applied shortly before Tuesday's deadline are the chancellor of the Colorado State University System and the University of South Carolina's provost. But the name that is most familiar is FSU interim president Garnett Stokes, who served as provost under former President Eric Barron.
She had long been rumored as a being interested in applying for the permanent job.
Stokes now becomes a front-runner alongside Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, a powerful FSU alum who has never worked in higher education. It ultimately may boil down to the Board of Trustees and if they decide on a more traditional candidate like the career academics who applied Tuesday or a non-traditional president in Thrasher, a politician who says he can help the school raise half a billion dollars. Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Ricky Polston is also likely to make the short list and would be another non-academic candidate.
Many members of the FSU faculty and progressive student organizations have been critical of Thrasher and said they felt he has been given an unfair, inside track to the top job. In her cover letter, Stokes said that she was heavily recruited to apply for the position.
"The strong encouragement I have received from colleagues inside and outside of the university to apply for the presidency has been remarkable and humbling and has led me to the decision to formally apply," she wrote. "I would be honored to serve as FSU’s fifteenth President."
The presidential search advisory committee now has a list of nearly 40 people to choose from when it meets Friday. Members will pick several finalists to interview next week.
Click here for a list of the 12 people who applied late Tuesday and a link to a list of 25 other applicants.