List of Presidents of Florida State University

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Statue of George Edgar, first president of the Seminary West of the Suwannee River, which eventually became Florida State University.

The President of Florida State University is the Executive Officer of the Florida State University Board of Trustees, and, essentially, the leader of the university. Florida State's campus is in Tallahassee, Florida. Although the institution was officially founded on January 24, 1851, it officially became a Liberal Arts College in 1897.

Florida State is a senior member of the State University System of Florida. Founded in 1851, it is located on the oldest continuous site of higher education in the state of Florida.[1]

The University is classified as a Research University with Very High Research by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.[2] The university comprises 16 separate colleges and more than 110 centers, facilities, labs and institutes that offer more than 360 programs of study, including professional school programs.[3] The university has an annual budget of over $1.7 billion.[4] Florida State is home to Florida's only National Laboratory – the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory and is the birthplace of the commercially viable anti-cancer drug Taxol. Florida State University also operates The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art, the State Art Museum of Florida and one of the largest museum/university complexes in the nation.[5]

The university is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). Florida State University is home to nationally ranked programs in many academic areas, including law, business, engineering, medicine, social policy, film, music, theater, dance, visual art, political science, psychology, social work, and the sciences.[6]

The school's name did not reach the present form until 1945, going through a number of different names between 1851 and 1945. From 1857 to 1887, the school's leader was given the title of "Principal".

The President's House at Florida State University

In the Fall of 2014, Florida State University chose their fifteenth president John E. Thrasher. He is a Florida State University alum and former state legislator, businessman, and lawyer. He was approved by the Florida Board of Governors on November 6, 2014 and took office on November 10, 2014.[7]

List of presidents[edit]

Term President Background and accomplishments
George-Edgar.jpg George Edgar was the first president of the Seminary West of the Suwannee River, the predecessor institution of The Florida State University. (Earlier school leaders had the title Principal.) He served in that office from 1887 to 1892.[8]
Alvin-Lewis.jpg Alvin Lewis was president, between 1892 and 1897, of the Seminary West of the Suwannee River, the predecessor institution of The Florida State University.
Albert-A.-Murphree.jpg Albert A. Murphree, a mathematician who joined the faculty of the Seminary West of the Suwannee River in 1895 at age 25, was president during a time of reorganization of higher education in Florida, including the 1909 transition to the Florida State College for Women. Despite the change to women-only status, Murphree had no intention of operating a typical women's college. He aimed instead to create an "institution of higher learning whose students happened to be females," and he succeeded in creating one of the top colleges in the South. One of the college's nearby historic residence halls, constructed in 1922, is named Jennie Murphree Hall, in honor of his wife.[8]
Edward-Conradi.jpg Edward Conradi was appointed dean in 1909 and shortly thereafter president of Florida State College for Women. Dr. Conradi's accomplishments were notable. By 1915 he had succeeded in developing a program that was recognized by the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. In 1924 the institution was approved by the Association of American Universities. Each year of his administration, he added personnel and equipment to the growing institution. While serving as president Dr. Conradi taught FSCW's first experimental psychology course. Conradi, who was born in Ohio and earned a Ph.D. in psychology from Clark University in Indiana, was FSCW's longest-serving president. His contributions resulted not only in his name being given to a Florida State University biology building but also to the College of Arts and Sciences' first Endowed Chair in the Psychology Department in 1991.[8]

Doak S. Campbell.jpg Doak S. Campbell was president during the transition from Florida State College for Women to The Florida State University. Prior to becoming president, he had been dean of the Graduate School at George Peabody College for Teachers. The change from a women's school to a coeducational school in 1947 was a substantial one in the school's history, and required great effort from the faculty and Campbell's administration to carry out smoothly. Dr. Campbell supported the creation of an intercollegiate sports program and worked to bring it along slowly but surely, paralleling the development of the new university. One of his most important contributions was his support for the construction of a football stadium on campus. His goal was achieved when the stadium was opened in 1950 and fittingly named for him. In 2004, the field was named after football coach Bobby Bowden, which made the official name of the facility Bobby Bowden Field at Doak Campbell Stadium. Dr. Campbell retired from his position in 1957, but remained in the Tallahassee area as President Emeritus until his death in 1973.[8]
When Doak Campbell retired as president of The Florida State University on June 30, 1957, Albert B. Martin served as acting president until Sept. 1, 1957, when Robert Strozier became president.
Strozier Robt Manning.jpg Robert M. Strozier became president of The Florida State University in 1957, after 28 years of college teaching and administration in three Georgia institutions. He had also served as dean of students and professor of romance languages at the University of Chicago. He was known for his excellent academic credentials, combined with a level-headed practicality and a winning personality. Soon after coming to Florida State, Strozier announced this ambition: "We shall make Florida State a great university," and took steps toward this goal. Students appreciated him for his ready wit, and he established a great rapport with the faculty. While in Chicago for a speaking engagement, Dr. Strozier suffered a heart attack and died on April 20, 1960, at age 53. The university's main library is named for him.[8]
Milton W. Carothers served Florida State College for Women and Florida State University as registrar, director of the Tallahassee Branch of the University of Florida, vice president and, finally, acting president upon the untimely death of Robert Strozier.
Gordon W. Blackwell was serving as the chancellor of the Woman's College of the University of North Carolina when he accepted the presidency of The Florida State University in 1960. Growth management, academic program development, building construction, and development of a well-rounded athletics program were the major accomplishments of his FSU administration. He played a vital role in the racial integration of the university. During his presidency, enrollment increased from 9,000 to 12,000 students, funding from research contracts and grants more than doubled to $5.5 million, faculty salaries increased by almost 50 percent and the total budget almost doubled to $30 million. To augment state funds with private support, Blackwell appointed the first professional director of the Florida State University Foundation. During his administration the School of Engineering was created; the Asolo Theatre Festival was begun; a Division of Sponsored Research was created; and new doctoral and master's degree programs were approved. During Blackwell's administration, $26 million was spent on building program, including new buildings for math-meteorology, physics, molecular biophysics, psychology research, the university student union and a residence hall. Doak Campbell Stadium was enlarged and a football field house was added. Blackwell left Florida State in 1965 to become president of Furman University. He died in 2004.[8]
John E. Champion was president of The Florida State University from 1965 to 1969. During his presidency, the law school opened, the university's first international study center (Florence, Italy) was created, construction was begun on the Fine Arts Building, and Florida State was named one of 30 Centers of Excellence by the National Science Foundation. Champion inaugurated the university's Artist Series and the President's Awards for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. He established the school's Program in Medical Sciences, the forerunner of today's College of Medicine, and was an advocate of campus beautification. Champion presented the diploma to Florida State's first black graduate, Maxwell Courtney. Enrollment swelled from 12,000 students to 16,000 students during his tenure, which also endured the tumult of student political protests. Champion was hired as an accounting professor in 1956, rose to assistant dean and later Florida State University's first vice president of administration before being tapped as president. After his presidency, he returned to the classroom as a professor in the Florida State University College of Business, retiring as professor emeritus in 1985. He died in 2002.[8]
J. Stanley Marshall came to The Florida State University in 1958 from the State University of New York at Cortland, where he held a professorship in physics. His first assignment was to establish a department of science education and to design programs to educate secondary school teachers in the sciences. He consulted widely in science education, principally in the Middle East and was recognized nationally and internationally for his accomplishments, including the elite designation as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Marshall served as dean of the Florida State University College of Education and executive vice president before his appointment as president. His presidency coincided with a period of radical student protests, and his campus leadership was most notable for advancing racial integration. Following his presidency he remained active in higher education, including service on the Florida State University Board of Trustees and the Florida Board of Governors. He died in 2014.[8]
Bernard F Sliger.jpg Bernard F. Sliger, a highly regarded economist, served as president of The Florida State University from 1977 to 1991 after four years as the university's executive vice president and chief academic officer. He returned to the helm as interim president after his successor Dale Lick resigned in 1993. Sliger served in that capacity until Talbot "Sandy" D'Alemberte became president in 1994. Sliger provided forward-thinking leadership during a long period of unprecedented growth for the university. During Sliger's tenure, student enrollment increased by nearly one-third, the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory was awarded to the university, and the institution acquired three supercomputers. Establishment of the FSU College of Engineering was high on his list of major achievements, as was acquisition of the Panama City Campus. In addition, Florida State rose to the pinnacle of intercollegiate athletics and joined the Atlantic Coast Conference; funding was approved for the multimillion-dollar University Center; and the idea for the College of Medicine was first explored. Following his retirement, Sliger served as the director of the Gus A. Stavros Center for the Advancement of Free Enterprise and Economic Education and as a professor of economics. He died in 2007.[8]
Dale W. Lick served as president of The Florida State University from 1991-1994. He also served as president of Georgia Southern University and the University of Maine. Since his term as Florida State University president he has been a professor of educational policy, and leadership studies and part of the university's Learning Systems Institute. Lick has been a faculty member and educational administrator for 40 years, including faculty and administrative appointments at nine colleges and universities. He is the author or co-author of over 50 professional books, articles and proceedings.
Sandy D'Alemberte.jpg Talbot D'Alemberte, served as president of The Florida State University from 1994 to 2003. Prior to his presidency he was dean of the Florida State University College of Law, and he continued his service to the university after his presidency. Throughout his tenure as president he was dedicated to academic excellence and research, intellectual freedom, diversity, heritage and historic preservation, support for the arts and culture, championship athletics, civic responsibility and service, international programs and campus beautification. Under his leadership The Florida State University College of Medicine was established and accredited and the university became headquarters of the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, the largest and high-powered facility of its sort in the world. The university also acquired The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art and established the Seven Days of Opening Nights festival of the fine and performing arts. Earlier in D'Alemberte's career, he served in the Florida House of Representatives. Throughout his life he has been dedicated to public and professional service. He served as President of the American Bar Association and President of the American Judicature Society along with numerous other offices and committee leadership. He has been a champion of pro bono legal service and was in the forefront of the modern dispute resolution movement. He has been honored with the legal profession's highest awards. His grandfather attended the Seminary West of the Suwannee and his mother attended the Florida State College for Women, two predecessor institutions of The Florida State University.[8]
T. K. Wetherell.jpg T. K. Wetherell was the first alumnus to become president. During his tenure, The Florida State University enrolled the most academically talented students in the history of the university, increased the number of doctoral degrees awarded, set new records for research dollars and experienced a boom in campus construction. Soon after assuming the presidency, Wetherell launched the Pathways of Excellence initiative that included hiring additional faculty members in interdisciplinary clusters built around academic themes, substantial investments in new facilities, and significant investments in graduate-level programs with emphasis on creating new interdisciplinary doctoral programs. Wetherell's tenure was marked by $800 million worth of new construction and renovations, including chemistry, biological science, psychology and medicine buildings that transformed the northwest corner of campus into a research quadrangle. Other projects included new research facilities, new residence halls, dining halls, parking garages, a general classroom building, the Alumni Center, renovation of Ruby Diamond Auditorium and a privately funded President's House. Under Wetherell's leadership, students reached unprecedented national academic recognition, including three Rhodes Scholars.

During Wetherell's tenure, Florida State University's College of Medicine, the nation's first new fully accredited public allopathic medical school in the past 25 years, graduated its first class, opened six regional campuses and established important research collaborations. Wetherell brought the Applied Superconductivity Center to campus from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where it had been housed for more than two decades. The center has become the material research division of the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory. A career educator who served in the Florida House of Representatives from 1980–92, including two years as Speaker, Wetherell earned his bachelor's and master's degrees as well as a doctorate in education administration from Florida State. He served as president of Tallahassee Community College from 1995 until 2001. Born Dec. 22, 1945, in Daytona Beach, Wetherell attended Florida State University on a football scholarship and played on the 1963-67 football teams. On his retirement from the presidency, Wetherell became a tenured professor in the College of Education and President Emeritus.[8]

Eric Barron.jpg Eric J. Barron took the position of 14th president of The Florida State University on February 1, 2010. Dr. Barron earned a bachelor's degree in geology from Florida State as an honors student in 1973. He holds master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Miami, both in oceanography. He has been director of the highly prominent national laboratory, the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colo., since 2008. Prior to taking the position at NCAR, Barron was dean of the newly formed Jackson School of Geosciences at the University of Texas at Austin. From 1986 to 2006, Dr. Barron was at Pennsylvania State University, where he was professor of geosciences, director of the Earth System Science Center, director of the EMS Environment Institute, and finally dean of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. Dr. Barron is a Fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Geophysical Union, the American Meteorological Society and the Geological Society of America. He has received many national awards as a scholar, researcher and distinguished lecturer, has published extensively and has been editor or a member of the editorial boards of a dozen academic journals. He has testified before Congress and has chaired numerous committees in service to the federal government, such as the NASA Senior Review for the Earth Sciences in 2005. He has chaired committees and panels of the National Research Council since 1987 and currently chairs "An Ocean Infrastructure for U.S. Ocean Research in 2030."[8]
John Thrasher.jpg John E. Thrasher, a Florida State University alumnus and former state legislator, is the university's 15th president. He assumed office Nov. 10, 2014, succeeding President Eric J. Barron. Thrasher earned a bachelor's degree in business from Florida State in 1965. He subsequently joined the U.S. Army where he received the Army Commendation Medal in Germany and was awarded two Bronze stars for his service in Vietnam. He was honorably discharged as a captain in 1970. Thrasher then returned to his alma mater to earn a law degree with honors in 1972. In his political career, Thrasher has served on a school board, in the Florida House of Representatives and in the Florida Senate. His success as a leader, businessman and lobbyist has helped him to develop strong ties within the community. After working in private law practice in Daytona Beach and Tallahassee for several years, Thrasher returned to Jacksonville to serve as general counsel of the Florida Medical Association, a position he held for 20 years. Thrasher was a partner of Southern Strategy Group, a Tallahassee-based governmental relations firm, from 2001 to 2009. Thrasher’s political career began in 1986 when he was elected to the Clay County School Board where he served as vice chairman, then chairman. He then became a state representative in 1992, and he was re-elected without opposition in 1994, 1996 and 1998. Thrasher was unanimously elected as the speaker of the Florida House of Representatives in 1998, He was elected to the Florida Senate in 2009 and subsequently re-elected. He served as chairman for the Republican Party of Florida in 2010. As a senator, Thrasher served as the chair of the Rules Committee and was involved in the Appropriations, Community Affairs, Ethics and Elections, Gaming, Judiciary, Regulated Industries, and Joint Legislative Budget Commission committees. He also served on the Appropriations Subcommittees on Education as well as Health and Human Services. From 2001 to 2005, Thrasher was the first chair of Florida State University’s Board of Trustees. In 2002, He was a key supporter of legislation that brought funding to the development of FSU’s College of Medicine, and a building at the college is named in his honor.[8]

Timeline of Florida State University presidential terms[edit]

Presidents of Florida State University
John E. Thrasher Eric J. Barron T. K. Wetherell Talbot D'Alemberte Albert A. Murphree Valentine Mason Johnson

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Klein, Barry (July 29, 2000). "FSU's age change: history or one-upmanship?". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved July 9, 2010. 
  2. ^ "Florida State University". Classifications. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. 2013. Retrieved April 26, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Colleges, Schools, Departments, Institutes, and Administrative Units". FSU Departments. Florida State University. April 26, 2013. Retrieved April 26, 2013. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ "The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art". FSU Departments. The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art. April 26, 2013. Retrieved April 26, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Florida State University – College Highlights and Selected National Rankings". Retrieved May 1, 2007. 
  7. ^ South Florida Sun-Sentinel (November 6, 2014). "New presidents at Florida State University and the University of Florida approved at Boca Raton meeting - Sun Sentinel". 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m

External links[edit]