Florida State University’s Board of Trustees recently selected a new president, Raw Story reported, going the controversial, political route by choosing Gov. Rick Scott’s campaign chairman, despite protests by angry students.

John Thrasher, 70, a die-hard conservative and former Florida Republican party leader, has no background in education whatsoever. On record, he will be the only public university president in Florida without a doctorate. He was chosen over three other highly qualified finalists, all of whom would have lead FSU by experience rather than with radical political interests.

Thrasher, like Gov. Scott, refuses to admit that climate change is a real man-made world issue, despite Florida’s stance as one of the states most highly impacted by rising sea-levels and temperatures. To make matters worse, when he was serving in the state house he was fined twice for violating ethics laws.

Florida State also recently sold out its academic freedom to Charles Koch, a billionaire oil tycoon and long-time climate change denier. Koch provided millions of dollars to the school’s economics department with multiple strings attached, including control over professors hired into the program, the ability to review work done by the economics faculty, and more.

Allowing the academic future of thousands of students to be put in jeopardy by billionaire politicians with skewed right-wing agendas is very dangerous. Koch and notable Republicans have truly gained control over the university.

If Thrasher is taking any cues from Rick Scott, the image and reputation of Florida State University is unquestionably at stake. Allowing an unqualified individual to lead the university is detrimental to the students, who are also fighting back for their academic freedom.


Alex Chastain is a writer for Ring of Fire.