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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Will John Thrasher leave the Senate to become FSU prez?

Republican Sen. John Thrasher at an education summit in 2013.

Times file

Republican Sen. John Thrasher at an education summit in 2013.



Does Sen. John Thrasher have his eye on the presidency at Florida State University, his beloved alma mater? That's what everybody seems to think.

Senate colleagues are wondering if 2014 will be 70-year-old Thrasher's final session even though he has filed papers to run for re-election later this year. Prominent FSU alumni and boosters are wondering if Thrasher, a well-regarded fundraiser, is the best man for the job being vacated by Eric Barron.

But Thrasher isn't saying much, at least right now.

"Nobody’s contacted me," he told the Times/Herald. "I haven't had any discussions with anybody. I know people are buzzing about it, but I plan on being the best senator I can be for the next two months and represent the people of District 6."

He may not have that long. 

Board of Trustees members are gearing up for a national search. They will name an interim president, identify the members of the search committee and hire a firm during a meeting on Friday. 

Once that happens, the search could unfold quickly if FSU follows the example of other state universities that recently hired new executives. Florida Atlantic University and Florida A&M University named new presidents within two weeks after applications were due.

Thrasher, who earned a bachelor's and law degree from FSU, is one of the school's most prominent alumni and supporters. He is a former House speaker, former chairman of the state Republican Party and currently one of the state Senate's leaders. During his time in the private sector as a lobbyist, Thrasher served as chairman of FSU's Board of Trustees.

He has helped funnel millions in state and private funding to the school. The FSU School of Medicine building was named after him.

FSU Faculty Senate President Gary Tyson, who is a member of the Board of Trustees, said the university's professors and instructors would prefer to have an academic with experience moving a university higher in national rankings as the next president. Still, he said, no one is being ruled out.

"I think we want everybody to have an open mind," Tyson said.

[Last modified: Tuesday, March 4, 2014 11:33am]


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