Florida State University


Dear Faculty,

I love this time of year in Tallahassee, and it was an honor to represent Florida State University as the grand marshal of the Springtime Tallahassee parade last weekend. It was a joy to see our community come together and enjoy all our capital city has to offer. 

Our diverse and vibrant city is one of many reasons why we received a record number of applications from first-time college students for admission in Summer and Fall 2017. This year’s applications topped 42,000 — a 16 percent jump over last year’s total!

You all should take pride in our increasing number of applicants. It means our reputation of academic excellence is rising throughout the state and the nation, and that starts with the top-notch work our faculty is doing.

We also recently received a prestigious award for our efforts in supporting internationalization and cultural diversity. FSU was one of only four institutions selected for the 2017 Senator Paul Simon Award for Campus Internationalization, awarded annually by NAFSA: Association of International Educators. This is a great honor and recognizes how we are instilling our students with a global awareness. 

On Tuesday, we celebrated all things garnet and gold during FSU Day at the Capitol. This is truly one of my favorite events! I love seeing old friends and showing off all the amazing things we are doing at Florida State.

I am optimistic about this year’s legislative session. We are focusing our attention on requests that will help us achieve our strategic goals: more preeminence and performance funding as well as significant funding for faculty retention and hiring and support for graduate students and postdocs. Funding in these areas will help us advance in the national rankings and better serve our students.

Last week, I was glad to join the Board of Governors and State University System presidents during a rally at the Capitol for the launch of the “Safer, Smarter, Stronger” initiative. The SUS presidents are united in our efforts to raise the research profile of our state universities and demonstrate that students are getting a great return on their educational investment.

On campus, the past few weeks have been incredibly busy — and very exciting.

It is truly my pleasure to congratulate Jeff Chanton as the 2017-2018 Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor. Jeff is an acclaimed scientist, tremendous researcher and an asset to our faculty. He is a 29-year veteran of the university who has done extensive work investigating the effects of the BP oil spill. Please join me in applauding Jeff on this magnificent accomplishment! 

It was wonderful to see so many of you at the Celebration of Newly Tenured Faculty on Tuesday. I know this group worked hard to earn tenure, and we are so glad to have them among our distinguished faculty.  

Last week, we rolled out the red carpet for our Oscar-winning alumnus Barry Jenkins during his first return to campus since accepting the Academy Award for Best Picture for his film, “Moonlight.” I was thrilled to congratulate him on his recent success, and I thanked him for taking the time to talk to students and urging them to never give up on their dreams. 

Just a few weeks ago, we enjoyed a great visit with National Science Foundation President France Córdova. Vice President Gary Ostrander and I took Dr. Córdova to meet with Gov. Rick Scott on the first day of the legislative session. She also met with some of our NSF Graduate Research Fellows and toured the NSF-funded National High Magnetic Field Laboratory. We are so grateful to have such a strong partnership with the NSF, and we were honored to show Dr. Córdova how the NSF supports FSU research.

Our alumni and donors know Florida State is a worthy investment, and they showed it during FSU’s Great Give last week. In just 36 hours, the online campaign event raised about $309,000 — about $100,000 more than last year’s total. Thank you to everyone who made donations!

On a bittersweet note, I’d like to thank Vice President for Student Affairs Mary Coburn for her incredible contributions to this university as she prepares to retire at the end of the semester. Mary has been a staunch champion for our students in so many areas, whether it’s leadership development, victim advocacy, student resource development or health and wellness. She leaves a legacy at Florida State that will touch students for many generations, and she will be sorely missed. Please join me in celebrating Mary’s service to FSU from 3 to 5 p.m. Friday, April 7, at Westcott Plaza. 

I can’t believe commencement is just around the corner. Enjoy the last few weeks of the spring semester! As always, I invite you to share your ideas with me and keep me posted on all the exciting news throughout campus. 


WATCH: FSU Day at the Capitol

FSU Faculty in the News

Florida State University

Office of the President
Florida State University
222 S. Copeland Street
Tallahassee, FL 32306