From on Presidents and Politics by Jennifer Proffitt Ph.D.
I’ve had several people ask me why I am “surprised” that the BOT chose Senator Thrasher to be our next president, and obviously, I am not surprised. I’ve been predicting this since February. But I am extremely disheartened by the absolute lack of consideration of the key constituents of the university, namely faculty and students. The Trustees completely, utterly, shamelessly ignored the will of campus and selected their political buddy over three extremely qualified higher education leaders.
I keep thinking, how are we going to recruit and retain faculty at a university that doesn’t care what the faculty think? How are we going to retain and recruit faculty at a university whose president knows nothing about the academy (but everything about the Capitol), denies science and whose own voting record demonstrates anti-union, anti-faculty, anti-tenure attitudes and policies?
I saw an article in the Democrat this morning with a headline that one of the faculty leaders on campus is eager to work with Thrasher (though I’m not sure that’s exactly what he said), and yes, obviously we will need to do so (though, folks, he still has to go through the BOG, which was grumbling earlier because the search was a national embarrassment—and still is). But that doesn’t mean let’s roll over. I’m happy to work with anyone who has the best interests of the institution at heart and who respects faculty so we can move this university forward–absolutely. But we will not give up shared governance; we will not give up academic freedom; we will not give up tenure; we will not give up integrity; we will not give up on our faculty one tiny bit because someone made a campaign promise to increase salaries. We will, however, hold anyone who makes such promises to them. But I guess Senator Thrasher is gonna have to manufacture money in his basement because as Trustee Rolando said, unless the legislature finds religion and allocates more money to higher education, then the argument that Thrasher knows the legislature and can steer more funds to us is garbage.
The fact that this search was a sham from the beginning only adds to my, let’s call it frustration, that a non-academic politician with personal, political, and financial ties to the BOT members and most of the PSAC members was rammed through despite loud opposition by all facets of the community (and calling him a non-academic is not name-calling—there’s evidence that has been presented and reported multiple times—and having a law degree does not make one an academic if he/she hasn’t worked in academia). Let’s not forget that alumni—who are also donors—are also outraged. I’d love to know how many people pulled their donations. I have anecdotal evidence of this, but I would like data.
Perhaps others aren’t hearing the same things I’m hearing: faculty already being recruited or applying for jobs, students and parents upset that politics trumped experience and merit, alumni outraged, community members flabbergasted that this could happen at our university.
So, no, I’m not surprised by the outcome. I’m surprised by the blatant in your face we don’t care what anyone thinks politics after the search firm recruited excellent and qualified candidates. Wasted everyone’s time and taxpayer money just to give FSU a permanent black eye.