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After Thrasher Fracas, Florida Board Rethinks How Universities Search for Presidents

| June 20, 2014

His interest was too heavy-handed. (© FlaglerLive)

His interest was too heavy-handed. (© FlaglerLive)

The Florida Board of Governors will consider changes to how schools search for new presidents, with one member saying the ongoing process at Florida State University has “damaged” that school’s national reputation.

“We need to be collectively mindful of the image our institutions and our system presents to our state and those outside our state,” said Board Chairman Morteza “Mori” Hosseini on Thursday.

Hosseini recommended the board consider changes, from making the presidential selection process uniform at all institutions to increasing the board’s involvement and setting benchmarks for how the searches are conducted.

The comments came as the FSU Presidential Search Advisory Committee is set to meet Friday to discuss timelines, procedures and a new search consultant — Monterey Park, Calif.-based Storbeck/Pimentel & Associates — as they restart the search process.

Board members said FSU is not the only school that has recently had some issues during their selection, but the process at the Tallahassee school has become the most high-profile case.

“I think this search has damaged FSU, their national reputation,” said board member Dean Colson. “I think it’s damaged the national reputation of FSU the way this search has played out.”

Colson also was critical of the treatment received by Dallas-based search consultant Bill Funk. Funk resigned last week after getting a unique vote of no confidence from the Faculty Senate.

Funk had earlier recommended the search be paused so that the committee could interview powerful St. Augustine Republican Sen. John Thrasher, who is currently the chairman of Gov. Rick Scott’s re-election campaign, before considering other candidates.

Thrasher’s desire for the job was said to be keeping other potential applicants from putting their name forward for the position.

A couple of board member also pondered if the search be conducted outside the state’s Sunshine Law, which Funk had credited for keeping some potential candidates from wanting to apply for the FSU job.

“You might get a totally different pool available to the boards of trustees and come to us,” said board member Patricia Front.

Hosseini agreed, saying the board may consider asking legislators to provide some shade for the first part of the selection process for new presidents. But he added that changes to the Sunshine Law would not be part of any recommended changes to presidential searches when the board holds a conference call on the issue in August.

Meanwhile, the ongoing effort to find a new president for the University of Florida was described to the board, by a member of the Gainesville school’s search committee, as being run in a much smoother manner.

“I would categorize the search … as being very well-organized, very inclusive in soliciting feedback from many,” said Thomas Kuntz, the Board of Governors vice chair and the board’s representative on the UF search committee.

“There is still a long road to go, so I’d say we’re in the early stages of the search,” Kuntz continued. “But at this point, I’d report to the full board that I’m very impressed with the organization, the outreach, and I’m confident that as we move forward in the months to come, there will be many great applicants, and based on the organization, the search committee will do a thorough job in vetting those candidates.”

–Jim Turner, News Service of Florida

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9 Responses for “After Thrasher Fracas, Florida Board Rethinks How Universities Search for Presidents”

  1. Will says:

    Has Senator Thrasher withdrawn his name from consideration? Same question for the Supreme Court Chief Justice? Or might they jump back in to the new pool when it’s ready?

  2. A.S.F. says:

    It’s hard to get past the old boys club. Shining a light on all this is a good first step. Thank you, Flaglerlive!

  3. confidential says:

    Oh Yeah Mori Hosseini, de developer, in these boards too. Isin’t a bit of conflict of interest also?

    • Max Awesomeness says:

      Sure is, just look at the DSC board of trustees. They even had a sitting professor from a different school on the board, and Haas’ husband works for the hosseinis, which is probably the reason why her votes always align with Forough’s.

  4. Genie says:

    If Mori Hosseini is the Chairman of the Board, the school’s reputation is already shot, in my opinion. I have heard that Thrasher is already counting his chickens, having people contact those who will vote on his replacement in the Senate in favor of one candidate, Doc Renuart. I don’t know who this man is, but I totally disapprove of the manner in which this is being done. Leave it to the voters, please.

    This pond needs to be cleansed of the scum.

    I met a young man the other night that I like very much for Thrasher’s seat. Derek Hankerson from St. Augustine is running as a candidate for State Senate District 6.

  5. NortonSmitty says:

    So, after spending $250,000 on Bill Funk, a Texas Republican operative with connections to many conservative organizations, we now move on to another well-connected California firm, Storbeck/Pimentel & Associates, for who knows how much to find the perfect unemployed Republican flunky, I mean esteemed educational genius candidate to run one of our flagship universities in Tallahassee. Why not?

    Well, whichever Conservative banner-man they appoint will have to carry the baggage of his parties platform and rhetorical message they have been hanging their hat on for the past 30 years. A consistent drumbeat of anti-intellectual, anti-science and spiritualist irrationality they have fed like red meat to their conservative base to keep themselves in power. A divisive litany of propaganda that they smugly are too educated to really believe, but passionately and wholeheartedly sell to the collection of half-educated, religiously addled and just plain mean spirited folks who make up about the bottom half of every society on Earth since time began. Even special and exceptional ones like our America today. The Wall Street folks call them The Loyal Conservative Fan Base in public. But they use the term Suckers behind closed doors.

    Things that thinking people have agreed on, some for centuries, are now being ridiculed for political gain. Darwin’s Theory of Evolution? It’s just a Theory, I’m telling you The Flintstones was a documentary! Global Warming? Ha, didn’t you see all the snow last winter? Income inequality? I ain’t never been hired by a poor man. My kid is losing his house ’cause of the Mexicans, you Commie! The Constitution was in the Bible, right after the part where it said God hates queers.

    And so it goes. There is only one conclusion to reach, and that is the Republican Party has abandoned rational thought even when proven and backed by scientific empirical evidence. Or as we used to call it, the Truth. Instead of Truth being admired and a goal to strive for by every good government we studied in Civics class, (Civics, how quaint!) Truth is derided by all parties today as an unnecessary impediment to running our Government. But only the Republican Party has perfected a way to ride this cynical ignorance to power. There is the obvious and only conclusion to which you can arrive.

    So, we should reward these self-possessed and power hungry cretins by giving them control over the higher education of our next generation of leaders? Allow them power to set a curriculum that graduates technically proficient workers who have never learned History, the art of critical thinking or any other art. Or give them a real foundation and the skills to actually look around and know enough to question their lot in today’s society? Who would benefit from a piss poor education like that?

    Republicans, that’s who.

    In the words of the Master:

  6. JoJo says:

    The old boys club is right. Why not? No term limits, nice cushy job, big salary, plenty of benefits. Kind of put Scott in a pickle.

  7. confidential says:

    250,000 thrown out the window into some elite consultant pocket a la NJ Chris Christie paying that consultant to choose and pick to which GOP better interest, to disburse the fed funds intended only to help the Sandy Hooks hurricane victims.
    They should all be in jail and NOT in the elections ballots. Florida = chads, gerrymandering, voter suppression and favoritism promoted by corrupted politicos in power… too much red state! Too bad because I love Florida!

  8. rickg says:

    The Rs have been in charge of the House, Senate and Governorship since 1998… Time for change. Time to get some competency back into state government and at the universities who thrive on donations like the Koch Bros… Do you think they might call some shots here and there??

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