Controversial FSU Presidential Search Resets With Hire of New Executive Search Firm

fsuFlorida State University has announced the hire of a new executive search firm. The firm will work toward their goal of finding a new president for the university.

The hiring comes at a good time. Just days ago, Bill Funk resigned from his position as a search consultant for FSU’s presidential search. A week before Funk’s resignation, the university’s Faculty Senate had passed a resolution saying they had lost confidence in Funk’s ability to produce a viable candidate. Funk’s resignation letter was submitted to Chairman Ed Burr, and did not list his reasons for leaving the position.

“[The faculty vote of no confidence in Funk] was a response to a series of unprecedented irregularities in the search process that were never explained,” said Matthew Lata, an FSU music professor, in an interview with FSU News.

The university has faced growing pressure to streamlining its search process. Earlier this week, a meeting with extended public commentary saw many student groups and faculty vocalizing their opinion that FSU’s panel had not only been mishandling the presidential search process, but also ignoring feedback from important school constituencies. The university faculty union, FSU Chapter of United Faculty of Florida, has presented a petition that asks for the presidential search to be “reset,” and for the school to add more faculty and students to the search advisory panel.

The new executive search firm will face many challenges as they step into the role left by Funk. Not least among them is the difficult task of mediating between the search advisory committee and the university faculty. The firm will also be reviewing how the position itself has been advertised.

Last month, the committee decided to pause the candidate search until they interviewed State Sen. John Thrasher, who has been considered a top contender for the position. Funk had previously suggested that this was discouraging other candidates from applying — a suggestion that Burr, who leads the search committee, disagreed with. Faculty have been upset over the choice to make Thrasher a top candidate, as they are advocating for a leader from academia.

As of now, the search advisory committee has set a Sept. 2 deadline for accepting applications for the position, meaning that a new, approved president could be hired by Sept. 22. FSU has been without a president since past president Eric Barron accepted a presidency at Penn State last February. Since then, Provost Garnett Stokes has been serving as interim president.