As a member of the Board of Trustees when he was hired, we, as a board, got plenty of criticism for hiring a politician and not an academic even though, during his time in both the Florida House of Representatives and the Florida Senate, President Thrasher championed higher education, including the establishment of the Florida State University Medical School. Upon taking the helm as President, his first order of business was to earn the respect of the faculty by working closely with them and listening to their academic advice.
The Board of Trustees had adopted a what many considered a “Quixotic” goal of making FSU a Top 25 public university in nation, while ranked at the time as #46.
The process for advancing is very difficult. We, as a board, set out to reach our goal by focusing on the following metrics: greatly improving the GPA and test scores of our incoming students, improving the faculty to student ratios and size of classes, which can be very costly, and enhancing the reputation among peers, improving the retention of your students by not letting them flunk out, increasing the graduation rate and increasing the alumni giving.
With funding support from the Florida Legislature, leadership from Governors Scott and DeSantis, and the encouragement of the State University System of Florida Board of Governors- FSU not only accomplished the goal of reaching the Top 25, but rose to #18 this year.
Most importantly, with the help of our faculty- our students have the best graduation rate among public universities in Florida and ninth overall in the US.
FSU is among the top two most efficient universities in the nation and a Kiplinger’s Best Buy in higher education.
Under President Thrasher’s leadership and the hard work and generosity of many, The FSU Capital Campaign exceed its $1 Billion goal, including the record setting $100 million donation from Moran family to establish the Jim Moran School of Entrepreneurship.
FSU is also widely recognized by its diversity, friendly and beautiful campus. Athletics finished #7 in the Director’s Cup Standings, led by the National Championship in Women’s Soccer, a Baseball College World Series appearance with its Coach Mike Martin retiring with more wins that any coach in any sport in NCAA history and the Sweet Sixteen in men’s basketball.
Economic vitality is crucial for Florida’s future, with the educational system being the most critical component, for the last few years US News and World Report has ranked the State University System of Florida as the very best .
Again, during this Thanksgiving season the citizens, taxpayers and leaders of Florida merit a big Thank You, along with the FSU students, faculty, staff, volunteers, donors, and administrators led by President Thrasher.
Leslie Pantin ’70
Past Vice Chair, Florida State University Board of Trustees
Coral Gables, FL