Florida State University


•  OCTOBER 24, 2017 •

Dear Faculty,

It’s hard to believe we’re only about halfway through the fall semester — there has been a lot happening around the campus of this great university!

Florida State often finds itself in the national spotlight, and last week, we had the pleasure of welcoming Second Lady Karen Pence for the announcement of her new art therapy initiative. Along with Mrs. Pence, we were thrilled to host scholars, researchers and clinicians who have made it their mission to improve lives through the power of art therapy.

Mrs. Pence chose Florida State as the venue to roll out her new platform because of our nationally acclaimed art therapy graduate education program. That is a testament to the amazing work of the FSU art therapy program’s faculty — Professor and Chair of the Department of Art Education Dave Gussak, Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Art Therapy Programs Barbara Parker-Bell and Assistant Professor Theresa Van Lith. Congratulations on this great honor!

Last month, in the middle of our response to Hurricane Irma, U.S. News & World Report announced its annual “Best Colleges” rankings. You’ve probably heard by now that Florida State climbed to No. 33 among the nation’s public universities! That means we jumped five spots from last year and 10 spots from just two years ago when we were ranked No. 43 among public universities.

I truly appreciate all of the hard work you have done to make this happen. Our excellent graduation and student retention rates are the driving forces behind our rise in the rankings, and a top-notch faculty is integral to attracting high-caliber students and putting them on the path to graduation and careers.

In fact, that’s why we’re opening 125 new faculty lines across campus, and we hope to have those new colleagues in place by Fall 2018. You are a very important part of the faculty hiring process, and I want to thank you for your efforts in this regard. Coupled with market equity raises, the hiring initiative will allow us to see improvement in key areas that affect the rankings: faculty compensation, class size and student-faculty ratio.

This reinforces our belief that if we focus on the things that matter — student success and elevating our faculty — the rankings will follow and bring us closer to our long-term goal of being recognized among the Top 25 public universities in America.

The strategic investments we are making to support you as you apply for competitive research grants are also really paying off. Florida State researchers brought in a record amount of funding from the National Institutes of Health over the past year — $35.8 million. That’s more than double the amount the university received five years ago, and one of the highest amounts won by any Florida research institution or university during the 2017 federal fiscal year. This is outstanding news, and proof of the NIH’s confidence in FSU’s faculty and our excellent programs.

Earlier this month, Provost Sally McRorie, Vice President for Finance and Administration Kyle Clark and I attended a Board of Governors’ facilities workshop where we presented the top priorities for which we are seeking legislative funding — the EOAS building, the College of Business Legacy Hall, the Interdisciplinary Research Commercialization Building (IRCB) and the STEM Teaching Lab. Together with FAMU, we are requesting funding for an additional building for the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering. We're very excited about the proposed new building and the future of the college!

It was my pleasure to host Jan Moran for a great visit last week. Renovations to the Jim Moran Building are coming along nicely and should be completed later this year. We toured the new building, which will house the Jim Moran School of Entrepreneurship and the Jim Moran Institute, and we're excited about the progress. 

Also, in light of recent events at other university campuses, I think it is a good time to review the university’s current policies on campus names and markers, including statues and other recognitions. I’ve created a panel of university students, faculty, staff and alumni to research these issues, seek input from university constituencies and determine criteria for naming policies and, if necessary, recommend an appropriate process for renaming campus recognitions.

I’d like to close with some news about our students that won't be too surprising. Our students are very satisfied with their FSU experience, according to the latest National Survey of Student Engagement. Once every three years, FSU freshmen and seniors participate in the National Survey of Student Engagement as a way for us to gauge whether we are meeting our students’ needs. The new survey results are out, and the answer is a resounding “yes.” 

Eighty-eight percent of seniors at FSU said they would attend the same institution again, significantly higher than the participating Florida SUS institutions (83 percent) and National Public Research Universities (84 percent). When asked how they would evaluate their entire educational experience at their current institution, 90 percent of FSU seniors answered “good” to “excellent,” compared to 85 percent for both the SUS peers and National Public Universities cohorts. 

These results are evidence of your dedication to our students as you share a commitment to academic excellence with them. Congratulations! 

Florida State is on the rise, and all of you play a big part in our success. I enjoy reading the positive media attention you are generating for FSU, and I’ve shared some of those clips below. 

Please feel free to reach out anytime. I always look forward to hearing your news, ideas and feedback. 


FSU Faculty in the News

Florida State University

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