John Thrasher, Others Won't Get 'Special Process' Under New FSU Consultant

By: Jim Turner News Service of Florida | Posted: June 25, 2014 3:55 AM
Florida State University

Florida State University

The search for Florida State University's next president won't be sidetracked again for a powerful state politician -- or any other individual -- who wants the job, the new consultant said Tuesday.

Alberto Pimentel, a managing partner from the California office of Storbeck/Pimentel & Associates, said during informal afternoon sessions with students and faculty that he won't repeat the recommendation of the prior consultant to have the search committee interview just St. Augustine Republican Sen. John Thrasher, a former chairman of the Republican Party of Florida.

"There will be one process and one process only," Pimentel said. "We're not going to create a special process for some candidates and not for others. I think that you get in trouble when you do that."

Pimentel added that the attention the search has garnered shouldn’t reduce the chances of landing qualified candidates, no matter their academic or professional background.

Last Thursday, Florida Board of Governors member Dean Colson said the search has "damaged the national reputation of FSU."

Pimentel, whose firm has conducted about 2,000 university job searches nationwide, said all high-level recruitments have a "favorite son" and that no search comes without "hiccups."

"In reality what happened nationally is, people are looking at this and saying, 'We get the message, they're looking now for an academic,'" Pimentel said. "That doesn't preclude others from applying. But it sends a message to those in academics that they're welcome to apply."

FSU students and faculty continue to push for an individual with a strong academic resume rather than a politician. Pimentel is using the informal sessions to put together a new job posting as the school seeks an individual who can direct fundraising and also guide the university toward a national top-25 ranking for academics and research.

Pimentel was brought in to replace Bill Funk, who resigned June 9 after receiving a vote of no confidence from the Faculty Senate.

Funk had recommended the search be paused so that the committee could interview Thrasher, a former House speaker who is currently chairman of Gov. Rick Scott's re-election campaign. Funk blamed Thrasher's interest in the job and the state's Sunshine Law on keeping other potential applicants from putting their names forward for the position. After Thrasher filed an application, Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda, D-Tallahassee, and Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Ricky Polston also asked to be considered for the job. The interview with Thrasher was postponed, and the process was reopened.

In addition to an academic background, students on Tuesday stressed a need to seek out minority candidates and individuals more in touch with activities on campus.

Graduate student Martin Bremer said he was encouraged the search is being extended into the fall academic year when more students and faculty will be on campus.

"It wasn't necessarily Thrasher, but rather we wanted to have more voices heard and people interviewed," Bremer said.

Pimentel is to hold a similar session with faculty on Wednesday.

The committee agreed last Friday to a timeline that will require potential applicants to apply for the job by Sept. 2. The committee would whittle down the pool of candidates three days later, and interviews with select applicants would be held the next week.

Finalists are slated to be invited for additional interviews the week of Sept. 15, and the committee is scheduled to issue its recommendation on Sept. 22.

No timelines had been set before Pimentel was brought on board.

Pimentel, whose contract has yet to be finalized, said he hopes to have two to four candidates visit the campus before the final recommendation is made. The FSU board of trustees would then have to recommend the selection to the Florida Board of Governors.

The school has been without a permanent president since April, when Eric Barron left for Penn State University.

Tags: News, Politics

Comments (2)

stop lying and denying and just tell the truth!
4:41PM JUN 26TH 2014
Florida Board of Governors member Dean Colson said the search has "damaged the national reputation of FSU." This little John Thrasher back room deal is just more of the same out to pasture Republican “Aggressive-Conservative Bush clan politics – Florida style since the late 1990’s!
You can’t damage anything any worse than they did with the Winston Jameis rape cover ups! Everyone from the first responding cop to the corrupt State Attorney and all the way to Rick Scott and His FDLE – have committed the crime of Obstruction of Justice! That’s not tosay they didn’t get plenty of on the job training from the “just us department.”
Why did Penn State the nationally recognized center for turn your head pedophilia hire the president of football-rape-probe-cover-up FSU? Because they needed and wanted to hire a professional master of cover ups!

It's important -- not only if you care about Penn State or football but if you care about the "rape culture" on college campuses -- to read the New York Times article in its entirety. Some of the most devastating reporting is about how the Tallahassee police allegedly botched the probe by overlooking key evidence against Winston or generally just not investigating at all -- after a 19-year-old FSU freshman with telltale bruises said she'd been raped by a stranger after a night of drinking at a local bar.
But here are the two paragraphs of Bogdanich's piece that raise serious questions about Barron's fitness to lead Penn State:
University administrators, in apparent violation of federal law, did not promptly investigate either the rape accusation or the witness’s admission that he had videotaped part of the encounter.
Records show that Florida State’s athletic department knew about the rape accusation early on, in January 2013, when the assistant athletic director called the police to inquire about the case. Even so, the university did nothing about it, allowing Mr. Winston to play the full season without having to answer any questions. After the championship game, in January 2014, university officials asked Mr. Winston to discuss the case, but he declined on advice of his lawyer.
Now, it's important to be clear. The article does not spell out any specific wrongdoing by Barron, but its raises serious questions about Florida State's culture while he was in charge. Ironically (or not), one of the many embarrassments for Penn State during the Sandusky-Spanier era is that, it, too, is under investigation for violating the same federal law in reporting sex crimes.
The Times also notes a ridiculously incestuous relationship between the Tallahassee cops, including the officer Scott Angulo allegedly "investigating" Winston, football boosters, and president Barron:
Officer Angulo has done private security work for the Seminole Boosters, a nonprofit organization, with nearly $150 million in assets, that is the primary financier of Florida State athletics, according to records and a lawyer for the boosters. It also paid roughly a quarter of the $602,000 salary of the university president, Eric Barron, who was recently named president of Penn State.
Yes, you read that correctly -- football boosters pay a quarter of the salary of Florida State's president. God bless the Sunshine State.
Now, the Times article and USA Today have noted, the federal Department of Education has opened an investigation into whether FSU, under Barron's administration, properly responded to sexual-assault allegations. The Times also quotes the head of a women's shelter who said that FSU tended to bury complaints in its internal review process and that compared to what other universities have done, "I’m not seeing that level of energy here." There are clearly hints that the problems at Florida State run deeper than just its star quarterback:
In January, the mother of a student who said she had been sexually battered at a fraternity the previous April contacted the campus police asking why the university “doesn’t do more to protect women from rape,” records show. The police response was to inform the mother of a self-defense class for students.
So, the bottom line here suggests that the "due process" that Barron boasted about was actually an effort to protect Winston while the team was on the way to winning the national championship. This is Penn State's guy to make you forget about Sandusky?
The people of Pennsylvania, who are paying a chunk of Barron's $800,000 salary (yes, he got a raise...of course he did) and the Penn State community deserve answers, and we all deserve them sooner rather than later. Eric Barron needs to got before the hot lights and answer any and all questions about what he knew about the Jameis Winston case and what he did -- if anything -- about it. He needs to explain what -- again. if anything at all -- he did to improve the culture around combating sexual assaults and rape at FSU, and what he plans to do for Happy Valley.
Penn State's trustees and its top leaders need to do something they been mostly incapable of -- both in the years before Jerry Sandusky was busted and in the two years since, which is look in the mirror and address the deep flaws in its institutional culture. Now it's the 4th quarter and time for what some of the "old boys" of Happy Valley would surely consider a Hail Mary pass: Telling the truth.
9:08PM JUN 25TH 2014
So the Clown Show will not resume? Why not Sarah Palin for FSU prez?

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