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FSU trustees expected to approve Thrasher contract, $430K base salary on Monday

Published Oct. 15, 2014

A draft version of the contract between state Sen. John Thrasher and Florida State University shows that they have negotiated a five-year term starting Nov. 10.

The FSU Board of Trustees plans to meet via conference call Monday to discuss and likely approve the proposed contract. Thrasher, who expects to be re-elected to the Senate on Nov. 4, said he would step down from his Senate seat as soon as the Board of Governors confirms him. That formality should occur when the group meets Nov. 5 and 6.

Thrasher will have a $430,000 base salary with an opportunity to earn more through bonuses and deferred compensation. State law limits the use of public dollars for university presidents' salaries to $225,000, so the rest will come from the FSU Foundation and Seminole Boosters.

This base salary puts Thrasher in the middle among the 12 state universities' presidents, though he will be the highest paid among the four hired this year. The others are Florida A&M University's Elmira Mangum at $425,000 in base salary, Florida Atlantic University's John Kelly at $400,000 and Florida Polytechnic University's Randy Avent at $385,000.

Former FSU President Eric Barron had a base salary of $405,000, at the time of his resignation earlier this year. The University of Florida is expected to name one of two finalists president on Wednesday, and that man will likely earn about $500,000 a year in base salary.

Thrasher's proposed contract also includes the opportunity to earn another $100,000 annual for meeting performance goals that he and the trustees will iron out together. On the other hand, if he falls too short on too many of these standards, Thrasher could lose as much as 10 percent of his annual salary.

If he stays for the full five years of his initial term, he will receive a $225,000 retention payment. The contract also calls for an amount equal to 15 percent of his salary to be put in a deferred compensation retirement account.

If and when Thrasher steps down as president, he will become a tenured professor at the FSU College of Law. His friend, supporter and predecessor Sandy D'Alemberte is already doing the same.

Other highlights of Thrasher's proposed contract:

--He will receive the same benefits as other FSU executives when it comes to health care, disability coverage, life insurance, vacation time and sick leave.

-The school will provide an automobile –- required to have an FSU license plate –- for his official use, but he can accept a $900 monthly car allowance instead.

-Thrasher will live in the president's house on the northern edge of campus, with the university covering all costs.

-Thrasher is allowed to serve on the board of directors for up to two for-profit companies, as long as he receives Board of Trustees approval. He can also serve on the boards of any non-profit corporations, though he is expected to notify trustees Chairman Allan Bense first.

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- Thrasher can resign at any time, as long as he gives a minimum of 180 days' notice. You may recall that Barron's contract had a similar provision, and it didn't do much good when he abruptly left for Pennsylvania State University.

Now this isn't in the contract, but one result of Thrasher staying on at FSU for at least five years would be a significant boost to his state pension check because he will make much more as president than he would as a state lawmaker. But a little perspective: his net worth is already $6.6 million.


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