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Bill Funk, the executive search consultant hired to lead FSU's presidential search, resigned Monday. Photo from FSView

Recruiter steps down from FSU presidential search

From Staff

The wavering search for a new president at Florida State University will go on without its hired recruiter.

William "Bill" Funk, a Dallas-based consultant brought in to help find FSU a new president, abruptly resigned from the job Monday.

The move comes after the Faculty Senate issued a vote of no confidence in the search process and after the chairman of the Presidential Search Advisory Committee reversed course on Funk's recommendation that the search be paused so powerful state Sen. John Thrasher could first be interviewed for the job.

Committee Chairman Ed Burr, in a release posted on the search committee's website, expressed disappointment about Funk's resignation and noted that the committee will consider how to proceed Wednesday.

"Mr. Funk felt he could no longer make the kind of contribution to the search that the university deserves," Burr said in the release.

Funk, who did not immediately reply to requests for comment, offered little in a two-sentence letter to the committee.

"This note is to formally withdraw as the consultant to the Florida State University president search," Funk wrote to Burr on Monday. "We wish you, the search committee, and board the greatest success in finding the best next president for the university."

The school had already paid Funk $61,000, through fees and reimbursed costs, as part of a contract worth $75,000 plus expenses.

Funk and his firm R. William Funk and Associates have been involved in about 375 university and college presidential and chancellor searches.

He worked with FSU in 2002 when T.K. Wetherell was named president.

Wetherell, a former Florida House speaker, had been president of Tallahassee Community College before getting the FSU job.

Thrasher, then a member of the FSU trustees, was part of the vote to hire Wetherell, who was with the university until 2009

Funk's action Monday came less than a week after Burr reversed the committee's May 21 decision, in a 15-9 vote, to pause the process so the panel could first interview Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, for the job.

Funk had advised the committee that Thrasher's aspiration for the job was keeping other desired candidates from wanting to apply.

Thrasher, 70, is an influential figure in state politics. Currently chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, he served as House speaker from 1998 to 2000. Also, he is chairman of Gov. Rick Scott's re-election campaign and previously served as chairman of the Republican Party of Florida.

Burr, who is also an FSU trustee, noted he came to his decision to reopen the search process because additional applications for president had been submitted.

Days after Thrasher was asked to interview, state Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda, D-Tallahassee, and Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Ricky Polston asked to be considered for the position.

A day after Burr's announcement, members of the Faculty Senate voted that they had "lost confidence" in Funk.

The faculty members also backed resolutions that asked the search committee to set a September deadline for applications, hold campus meetings with the short list of candidates and place an emphasis on applicants having strong academic credentials.

FSU Provost Garnett Stokes has been serving as the institution's interim president since April 2, after Eric Barron stunned the university community by taking the same position at Penn State.

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