TALLAHASSEE — Be careful what you ask for.
The committee tasked with finding Florida State University’s next president launched a website earlier this year, asking students, alumni, professors and others to weigh in.
Nearly six months later, more than 400 comments have been logged. And if the most recent ones are any indication, the Tomahawk Nation is losing patience.
“It has been more than six months since Eric Barron stepped down and this committee … has several credible candidates it can interview,” wrote one FSU graduate on Sunday.
The website, www.presidentialsearch.fsu.edu, allows commenters to remain anonymous.
“… Interview some of these strong candidates and hire a new president now,” the writer added. “Do not delay the process of having a competent manager and leader at FSU any longer!!”
The same day, a faculty member wrote, “FSU is meandering under its interim leadership and needs solid leadership that can play it forward in setting ambitions for the university.”
The university’s efforts to replace former President Eric Barron have drawn criticism almost from the start. Barron left the top post at FSU to become president of Penn State University.
The search committee suspended its work to interview influential state Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine. The perception that he was the unannounced front-runner was dissuading others from applying, a search consultant said.
The committee’s chair later walked back the decision to give special treatment to Thrasher, who also chairs Gov. Rick Scott’s re-election campaign.
Several people took to the website just to bash Thrasher.
“The rumors I’m hearing about the selection being John Thrasher are disturbing to me,” wrote an FSU graduate from Jacksonville. “We don’t need another politician.”
Barron’s predecessor, T.K. Wetherell, also had been a state lawmaker, rising to speaker of the Florida House in 1990-92.
Soon after the search was resumed, state Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda, D-Tallahassee, and Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Ricky Polston also asked to be considered.
Then the search consultant who recommended the Thrasher interview quit and had to be replaced. The firm of Storbeck/Pimentel & Associates is now advising the process.
Some commenters want interim President Garnett Stokes to stay in the job.
“Stokes would be a wonderful president,” wrote one current student. “… She is well-liked by faculty, staff and students. She was wonderful at the graduation ceremonies and would be a phenomenal leader.”
Others say no, with one person calling her “not presidential material.”
More than a dozen nominations were submitted for Jack Knott, dean of the University of Southern California’s Price School of Public Policy, calling him the right balance of fundraiser and academic.
One student recommended either retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal, former CIA Director and retired Gen. David Petraeus, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice or former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.
“Please do not pick the usual ‘do no harm’ kind of person to run this school into ho-hum mediocrity,” the commenter wrote. “Give us a leader!!”
Meantime, the website is still accepting feedback. The committee is set to recommend a name to the university’s board of trustees as early as next month.
“Many comments are thoughtful and well considered, and some are less so,” said Ed Burr, Jacksonville businessman, FSU alumnus and trustee, and chairman of the presidential search committee.
“In any case, I am gratified that so many have shown an interest in our process and in the future of Florida State University.”