John Thrasher became Florida State University’s 15th president on Nov. 10, 2014. As president, Thrasher focused his efforts on elevating FSU’s reputation as a preeminent research institution and led the university to recognition as one of the nation’s Top 20 public universities. He presided over a $1 billion fundraising campaign, advanced the university’s academic and research mission, championed diversity and inclusion, and welcomed the best and brightest students in the university’s history.
Under Thrasher’s leadership, FSU achieved unprecedented success in a variety of areas.
- Florida State climbed 24 spots to No. 19 among national public universities in the U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges rankings.
- More than 30 graduate programs ranked in the Top 25 in U.S. News & World Report’s 2022 edition of “Best Graduate Schools.”
- Princeton Review named FSU the No. 11 Best Value College among public colleges and universities. The ranking highlights the nation’s top colleges for students seeking an excellent education with great career preparation at an affordable price.
- FSU earned the highest-rated credit of any public university in the state of Florida and became one of only eight public universities in the United States with AA+ rating or better from both S&P Global and Fitch.
- Florida State University employees claimed a total of 14 Florida TaxWatch Productivity Awards in 2020. For the fifth consecutive year, FSU earned the most awards by any institution in the State University System.
- FSU was recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the most efficient of the nation’s highest ranked public universities. The designation recognizes operating efficiency while maintaining a high academic reputation for excellence.
- FSU saw its four-year graduation rate rise to 74 percent, placing first among all State University System of Florida institutions and among the Top 10 nationally.
- FSU’s freshman retention rate of 95 percent ranks among the Top 15 in the country.
- Florida State eliminated disparities in graduation and retention rates among its diverse undergraduate population, of which nearly a third were Pell Grant recipients and first-generation college students.
- Graduate School enrollment increased 38 percent from Fall 2014 to Fall 2020. The Graduate School also experienced a rise of 53 percent in applications to Florida State University’s graduate programs during the same period and had 11 consecutive semesters of record-breaking application numbers.
- FSU received a record 62,574 freshman applications in 2021.
- FSU became a top research institution for producing student Fulbright Scholars with nine students receiving awards in 2020-2021.
- FSU received the Council on Undergraduate Research’s 2019 Campus-wide Award for Undergraduate Research Accomplishments, a prestigious national award that recognizes exemplary programs that provide high-quality research experiences for undergraduates.
- FSU became the largest university to implement an experiential learning graduation requirement for its undergraduates.
Faculty & Academic Program Achievements
- Florida State underwent the biggest faculty hiring initiative in university history, adding 240 new faculty members in 2018. That number included 125 new faculty positions that were created with preeminence funds from the State of Florida.
- Nine FSU faculty members were selected as U.S. Fulbright Scholar Program award recipients, setting a new FSU record for most Fulbright Scholars in one year.
- FSU has eight current and retired faculty members who have been named members of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences. Membership in the academy is considered one of the highest honors a scientist can receive.
- FSU launched a new Interdisciplinary Medical Sciences B.S. Degree Program — the first of its kind in the nation.
- Launched the Institute of Politics at Florida State University in 2020, a nonpartisan, world-class home for civic engagement and research, housed within the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy.
- FSU created the Jim Moran College of Entrepreneurship, the first standalone college of entrepreneurship in the nation. The college, which first opened its doors as a school in fall 2017 with a class of 80 students, now serves about 750 students.
- FSU opened the 14,000-square-foot Innovation Hub in the Louis Shores Building, a central location on campus that provides students from all degree programs with access to virtual reality, 3-D printers and other tools, along with training in design, coding and the technical skills needed to operate new technologies.
- FSU celebrated the conclusion of “Raise the Torch: The Campaign for Florida State” — the most ambitious fundraising campaign in university history — after raising $1.16 billion. Those funds supported 1,300 scholarships and 100 professorships.
- FSU received the largest gift in university history — $100 million from Jan Moran and the Jim Moran Foundation to create what is now the Jim Moran College of Entrepreneurship.
- In 2019, FSU celebrated the conclusion of “The Ringling Inspires: Honoring the Legacy and Building for the Future.” The decade-long fundraising campaign raised more than $101 million, and allowed the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art to double the size of its permanent collection, endow two curatorial positions and restore the Ca’ D’Zan, the home of John and Mable Ringling.
- The College of Medicine tied for No. 13 in diversity in the 2022 U.S. News & World Report “Best Graduate School” rankings with 26 percent of students identifying as an underrepresented minority.
- Florida State University was recognized in 2020 by INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine as one of 15 Diversity Champion colleges and universities in the nation. It was the fifth consecutive year FSU has received the award from the nation’s largest and oldest diversity and inclusion publication in higher education.
- Thrasher provided additional funding to add more than 100 new spots in the Center for Academic Retention and Enhancement program. CARE received national attention for its role in FSU’s success in graduating African-American and other traditionally underrepresented students.
- FSU received designation as a First-gen Forward Advisory Institution, recognizing its commitment to improving experiences and advancing outcomes of first-generation college students. The university was one of just 11 schools nationally to earn the designation from the Center for First-generation Student Success, an initiative of NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education and The Suder Foundation.
- Enrolled the university’s most diverse student body, including the highest percentage of underrepresented minority students in FSU history.
- FSU researchers received record funding in Fiscal Year 2020, bringing in $250.1 million in grants from federal, state and private sources.
- The National Science Foundation awarded the FSU-headquartered National High Magnetic Field Laboratory a $184 million, five-year renewal grant.
- FSU was awarded $8 million from Triumph Gulf Coast as part of a major 10-year initiative to restore Apalachicola Bay and revive the region’s imperiled oyster industry.
- FSU received $10 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to create a new Energy Frontier Research Center.
- Funding from the National Institutes of Health to conduct important health-related research nearly doubled from $18.2 million in 2014 to $34.5 million in 2020.
- The university opened FSU PrimaryHealth, the College of Medicine’s primary-care health center in southwest Tallahassee to meet health needs in Leon and surrounding counties.
Facilities & Campus Enhancements
- Secured funding for the Interdisciplinary Research and Commercialization Building. Groundbreaking is expected to take place in June 2021.
- Secured funding for Legacy Hall, an innovative new building that will be home to the College of Business.
- Constructed Seminole Landing — the first student housing on the Panama City Campus. The $23 million on-campus apartment community is expected to be completed in August 2021.
- Constructed the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) Building at Florida State University Schools. The building, which features flexible learning spaces and a 750-seat auditorium, is expected to be completed in 2021.
- Celebrated the grand opening of the new Seminole Legacy Golf Course in March 2020 – the first Jack Nicklaus Legacy Course in North America.
- Completed a massive renovation of the Harpe-Johnson building in 2020, home of FSU’s Air Force and Army ROTC programs.
- Completed the construction of a new 130,500-square-foot Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science Building in 2019 to accommodate the university’s internationally recognized programs in meteorology, geology and oceanography.
- Opened the new Black Student Union in 2018, providing much-needed space for one of FSU’s largest and most active student organizations.
- Opened a newly constructed Infant and Toddler Child Development Center in 2018 to provide quality care for the children of FSU’s students, faculty and staff.
- Began construction on a major renovation and expansion of Oglesby Student Union in 2018. The project is expected to be completed in 2021 and will be the largest facility on campus.
- Opened the newly constructed Magnolia and Azalea residence halls in 2017, providing contemporary on-campus housing for more than 900 students.
- Opened Dorman and Deviney Halls in 2015 to replace the original 1952 residence halls. The two six-story buildings provide suite-style living for about 875 students.