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John Thrasher

November 6, 2014 – August 2021

John Thrasher became the 15th president of Florida State University in November 2014 following a successful career as a state legislator, businessman, lawyer and lobbyist.

As president, Thrasher has focused his efforts on elevating FSU’s reputation as a preeminent research institution and has led the university to recognition as one of the nation’s Top 20 public universities. In addition, he has 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.

An FSU alumnus, Thrasher earned a bachelor’s degree in business in 1965. After graduating, he 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.

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. He also served as “of counsel” to the Jacksonville law firm of Smith, Hulsey & Busey from 1996 to 2008. 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 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.

From 2001 to 2005, Thrasher was the first chair of Florida State University’s Board of Trustees. He also served as chair for the Republican Party of Florida in 2010.

He was elected to the Florida Senate in 2009 and subsequently re-elected. He served in the Senate until he was named president of FSU in 2014.

Thrasher has received numerous awards in recognition of his leadership and service. He was inducted into the Florida Veterans Hall of Fame in 2017 and the FSU College of Business Hall of Fame in 2016. He also is the recipient of the NASPA Region III President’s Award and the Tallahassee Urban League Legend Award and was named the Tallahassee Democrat’s Person of the Year in 2015.

Born in Columbia, S.C., Thrasher moved to Florida as a child and grew up in Jacksonville. He and his wife, Jean, have three children and eight grandchildren.

State of the University Addresses

Jean Thrasher

Wife of John Thrasher

Jean Moore was born in Calhoun, Georgia, and moved as a young girl to Jacksonville, Florida, where she spent the remainder of her childhood.

She attended Brenau College in Gainesville, Georgia. During a summer break with college friends in Florida, she met John Thrasher and the two were married in 1964. Not long after college graduation and John’s commission in the U.S. Army, the young couple was posted to Germany. It was during this time their first child was born. John’s next assignment was duty in Vietnam and during his absence, Jean returned to the United States to reside near family in Orange Park, Florida. Here the couple’s second child was born. Upon John’s return from overseas, the family moved to Tallahassee so that he could enroll in Florida State University’s College of Law. Jean managed the “home front,” and completed their family with the birth of their third child.

After John’s graduation from FSU’s College of Law, the family moved to the Jacksonville region where Jean became heavily involved in the local community and was soon recognized as a community leader. She juggled Girl Scout troops, the PTA, youth sports leagues and served as a church deacon. Over the years, multiple boards benefited from her dedicated service, including the Lighthouse Learning Center in Clay County, Florida, and a local non-profit which raised one million dollars to build Quigley House – a center providing crisis intervention and temporary shelter for victims of domestic violence.

Jean was also a constant source of insight and support during John’s many years of legislative service and leadership.

With her husband’s selection as Florida State University’s 15th President, Jean has enthusiastically embraced the role of First Lady and on a daily basis participates in university activities supporting faculty, students and alumni in their goals and achievements.