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News Clips 06/06/2014
FSU faculty OK no-confidence vote on head hunter
Source: Tallahassee Democrat, 06/05/14
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By Doug Blackburn
One day after Florida State re-opened its search for a new president, the university's Faculty Senate approved four resolutions including a vote of no-confidence in William Funk, the head hunter FSU hired in April.
Funk had advised the search committee to put the search on hold until it dealt with powerful Republican state Sen. John Thrasher, whose presumed candidacy was preventing top-tier applicants from getting involved, Funk said.
The Faculty Senate also voted on Wednesday for a specific timeline for completing the search. It calls for a deadline for applying in early September, after the start of the fall semester and professors and students are back on campus.
Trustees Ed Burr, who chairs the search committee, and Allan Bense, chair of the trustees, have said they want to complete the search as quickly as possible.
The search committee next meets on Wednesday. When it last met, on May 21, the search committee voted 15-9 to interview Thrasher at the June 11 meeting and decide if he should be recommended to the board of trustees.
That plan began to unravel last weekend when state Supreme Court Chief Justice Ricky Polston, a graduate of FSU's law school, submitted his application to follow Eric Barron as president at FSU.
That prompted Burr to notify the 27-member search committee that they would not be interviewing Thrasher this Wednesday and that he wanted to re-open the search.
Eric Walker, who is on the Faculty Senate and a member of the president search panel, did not support the resolution expressing no confidence in Funk.
"I didn't find it particularly helpful," Walker, chairman of FSU's English department, said.
A majority of the professors did support the no confidence motion, which was amended to a simple resolution after starting with a list of actions where Funk had disappointed faculty members.
Funk was traveling out of the country Thursday and unavailable to comment. His assistant said he would be calling in for Wednesday's meeting.
Gary Tyson, the Faculty Senate president, said Wednesday's special meeting had been scheduled prior to Burr's letter reopening the search. Faculty needed an opportunity to understand how the search was unfolding, he said.
"I think there's still concern. I think Ed Burr's letter saying the search process is going to be normalized is a positive thing," Burr said. "There's still concern about politicians dominating the process. That's kind of where we are."
Walker, who was joined by the three other three faculty members, the three students, one dean and one Board of Governors member in the losing 9-5 vote to interview Thrasher next week, said Thursday he's not sure what all has changed.
"I'm glad that it slowed down. Otherwise, I'm not sure why," Walker said. "I'm curious to see how the next meeting goes."