‘Tragedy and triumph’: FSU president John Thrasher reflects on 2018
Florida State University President John Thrasher, who served in the Vietnam War, is among 20 candidates for spots in the Florida Veterans' Hall of Fame.


Unprecedented highs and harrowing lows mark the past year at Florida State University.

But the latter won’t weigh down the school, according to president John Thrasher, who spoke of a bittersweet 2018 and the time-tested resiliency of the institution during his fourth State of the University address on Wednesday.

The former state Senator and  House Speaker noted the university’s landmark progress in nationwide rankings, rising graduation rates and a healthy uptick in applicants.

But Thrasher also reflected on recent tribulations, among them a tragic nearby shooting that left a student and faculty member dead and a Category 4 storm that caused an estimated $7-8 million in damages at the university’s Panama City campus.

“It’s been quite a year,” Thrasher said. “It’s been one for both tragedy and certainly triumph.”

The Nov. 2 shooting at a hot yoga studio in Tallahassee left the university community “greatly troubled,” Thrasher said.   

And while Tallahassee was largely spared by the brunt of Hurricane Michael, the storm that swept through the Panhandle in October, the Panama City campus was “not so lucky.”

Both incidents won’t be forgotten.

In light of the shooting, Thrasher said he’ll continue to advocate for keeping guns off campuses, something that some state lawmakers have pushed against in recent years.

“As a society, we need to think about guns, and getting guns out of the hands of wrong people and how we can balance the rights of gun owners with the rights of all Americans to pursue life liberty and happiness,” said Thrasher.

With respect to the Panama City campus, Thrasher said the university will pursue relief money from state and federal sources. He also is “optimistic” about the university’s relationship with state lawmakers, who dole out preeminence funding and other resources to universities each year.

“Our lawmakers know that Florida State is one of the most efficient universities in the country and they understand that supporting Florida State University students and faculty is a wise investment in the future,” said Thrasher.

The university is nearing its goal of becoming a top 25 public university. In September, U.S. News and World Report ranked FSU 26th.

We’re glad that sports are no longer the first thing that some people think of when they say ‘Florida State University,’ said Thrasher, adding that the U.S. News’ rankings are gonna be higher next year.

Danny McAuliffe

Danny is a contributor at floridapolitics.com. He is a graduate of Fordham Law School and Florida State University, where he served as the editor of the FSView & Florida Flambeau. Reach him at [email protected].


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