Florida State University


•  APRIL 22, 2019 •

Dear Faculty,

Spring is such a joyful time of year at Florida State University! You can feel the energy across campus, and we always have a lot to celebrate. 

I was thrilled to highlight our academic excellence and athletic success during FSU Day at the Capitol April 9. It’s a wonderful opportunity to shine a spotlight on our academic programs and remind the Florida Legislature that FSU is one of the best universities in the country.

We also recognized our NCAA Champion Softball and Soccer teams, and I was honored to present members of the soccer team with their championship rings on the  steps of the Old Capitol. Across the board, our student-athletes are at the top of their game on the field and in the classroom. 

Student success is Florida State’s top priority, and our strategic investments in this area are paying dividends. Among public universities, Florida State’s four-year graduation rate of 72 percent is No. 1 in the state of Florida and among the Top 10 in the nation

What’s even more impressive is that FSU has eliminated disparities in graduation and retention rates between all categories of underrepresented and traditional student populations.

You, our top-notch faculty, play an integral role in helping students succeed, and I want to thank you for your efforts. Whether you are mentoring students in undergraduate research or encouraging them to pursue their dreams, you are all making a difference in students’ lives!

Earlier this semester, FSU placed No. 2 in the nation among research institutions for producing Fulbright Scholars. Nine faculty scholars, a record for FSU, were awarded Fulbright grants for 2018-2019. That’s a remarkable accomplishment!

Congratulations to Timothy Cross, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, who has been named Florida State University’s 2019-2020 Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor. A dedicated and valued member of the FSU faculty for more than three decades, Tim is an accomplished chemist who has helped steer the direction of chemical and biological research at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory. He is extremely deserving of the highest honor given by FSU faculty members to one of their own.

I’d also like to offer best wishes to College of Nursing Dean Judith McFetridge-Durdle, who will step down as dean June 30. Dean McFetridge-Durdle did a fantastic job leading the college as it increased its research capacity and strengthened its diversity, and we’re happy that she will return in a few months to help implement the college’s Ph.D. program.

In February, Florida State was awarded $8 million from Triumph Gulf Coast as part of a major 10-year initiative to restore the Apalachicola Bay and revive the oyster industry. This initiative is funded by economic damages recovered after the 2010 BP oil spill. We are thrilled with this opportunity for our research to make a big difference for the community and region.

Last month, FSU College of Social Work Dean Jim Clark and I joined the family and friends of FSU student Maura Binkley, who was killed in the yoga studio shooting, to launch Maura’s Voice. Dean Clark is heading up the research component of this important initiative that aims to uncover the root causes of violence, especially against women, and inform policy that will make us all safer.

There has been a lot happening around campus. We had one of the biggest turnouts ever at the annual President's Ice Cream Social, scooping 450 gallons of ice cream! This is one of my favorite FSU traditions!

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of awarding an honorary doctorate to Allan Bense, former Speaker of the House and chairman of the FSU Board of Trustees. There is no one more deserving of this recognition, and we are so grateful for Allan’s leadership and service to Florida State.

On March 26, we honored 14 amazing undergraduate students at the Humanitarian Luncheon as part of the annual President’s Humanitarian of the Year program. Then, on April 5, Florida State received the inaugural Innovative Leadership Award from the PeaceJam Foundation in recognition of our outstanding student leadership program. I am always so impressed with our students’ commitment to service and making a difference on campus and in the community.

Earlier this month, FSU held a Critical Thinking Symposium spotlighting truth and misinformation in the media with a week of engaging programming. This was a wonderful, interactive event for the entire campus community, and I’d like to thank everyone involved in planning it. Employers tell us all the time they like to hire FSU graduates because they know how to think critically, communicate clearly and solve complex problems.

And last week, it was my honor to host Gov. Ron DeSantis and join with the 11 other institutions in Florida’s State University System in affirming our dedication to preserving and celebrating freedom of expression and the exchange of ideas. 

Our alumni and donors know Florida State is a worthy investment, and they showed it during FSU’s Great Give last month. In just 36 hours, the campaign event raised $774,979 — far surpassing our goal of $500,000. Thank you to the FSU family, including so many faculty and staff, who came together to support our programs!

As we near the end of the semester, I'm looking forward to Commencement. Nothing makes me happier than seeing our students realize their dreams of an FSU degree. Thank you for the knowledge and motivation you share with our students as you guide them on their journey to graduation. 

Whether you will be teaching this summer or taking some time for travel or research, let me know what you're up to. Drop me an email or follow me on Twitter at @FSUPresThrasher.


FSU Faculty in the News

Florida State University

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Florida State University
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