To my fellow Seminoles:
Some of us supported Mr. Thrasher’s hard-fought endeavor to be the next President of Florida State University. To those, it is appropriate to acknowledge congratulations and our allegiance to FSU.
To those, including myself, who are disappointed in the duly appointed Board of Trustees’ decision, many warned of a potentially consequential academic brain-drain and drop in FSU’s reputation as a deeply committed Carnegie One Research University.
The decision having been made, it is time for us to come together to prevent such dire predictions.
Some have expressed their discontent with promises to discontinue alumni donations, to cause the enterprises or research foundations they helm to withhold grants, and most seriously, a few, among them some of the great scientists on Earth, have suggested that they will resign research and teaching positions at the Florida State University we all love.
Well, that’s not very helpful.
Please, don’t do that.
I will borrow the farsighted argument of David Cameron on the eve of what was the potential Scot succession:
John Thrasher will not be here forever.
The current roster of the Board of Trustees will not be here forever.
Rick Scott will not be here forever.
Even the Koch Brothers, will not be here forever.
Until a meteor hits us at just the right angle, the predicted next ice-age sets in, or leaders with a worrying overconfidence in a better afterlife press the button mutually assuring our destruction, the future of our institution and its Voltaire garden of works must continue to be cultivated–even under challenging economic and political circumstances.
This is because:
Thanks to FSU’s advances in cancer research, such as Taxol, a world with children suffering from cancer does not have to be forever.
Opposite the spectrum of human development, recent discoveries from FSU’s Bienkiewicz Laboratory give us hope that our coexistence with Alzheimer’s Disease does not have to be forever.
If FSU researcher Albrecht-Schmitt’s work with “californium” is repeatedly replicated through peer review, radioactive waste, does not even have to be forever.
Disagreement with the majority of a thirteen-person committee is insufficient cause to jeopardize our role in our university’s future accomplishments and continued academic leadership in the world.
Moreover, the John Thrashers of the world, the science-deniers, the pray-the-gay away folks–they may want you to resign from your research and teaching positions. They may want to promptly replace you with people arguing the “other side” of climate change, evolution, tobacco’s role in cancer, sexual equality, and other celestial teapots. They may want you to “go gentle into that good night.”
Your resignation may merely be misidentified as surrender to those who appreciate and understand you most–your supporters, your students, your colleagues who cite your works, those whose livelihoods depend upon your grants and lab budgets, and the segments of our society who do not wish to be drowned under rising sea levels.
It is understandable that you may yearn to succumb to the serene siren’s song that the world isn’t fair and doesn’t appreciate your tireless effort–many of you have suffered divorce and alienation in your quest for knowledge helpful to a seemingly apathetic and unappreciative universe. Consider, however, explaining to a kid with cancer that you suspended your research while looking for employment and funding elsewhere because politics plays too much of a role in Florida’s higher education–you may find an unsympathetic audience.
You chose and endured great hardship to be public intellectuals, and you therefore voluntarily chose to be responsible as scientists, philosophers, artists, and academicians to “rage against the dying of the light” in a world where science-deniers, the nihilists, and wealthy special interests occasionally win the day at the ballot box.
The community needs you to fulfill that responsibility now more than ever.
Some of you have tenure–he cannot make you leave; only you have that power–don’t cede it.
To consider changing where you live and where you work just because the titular head disagrees with you is to give him far more power than he, or his supporters, actually have or deserve.
The faculty, TAs, and students collectively have more actual power to determine the direction of FSU than a single human being–whatever the net-worth of his supporters and whatever his title.
Meanwhile, he has offered to fundraise a billion dollars in one hundred days.
Enthusiastically support him in this endeavor–then spend every dollar of it producing peer reviewed experiments and empirical research to prove his and the Koch brother’s ideas wrong.
If you are feeling particularly charitable, consider giving him a chance. Wait for him to make actual objective mistakes while sincerely working with him to help succeed in bettering FSU before demanding his tarring and feathering. It is possible he wants to pour all of his energy into making this school be the best it can be on its own terms and that he is able to divorce his personal opinions from the process–he wouldn’t be the first political leader to do such in search of a legacy.
The only other remedy is to go get the pitch forks while others rally the village people and see if that makes him more likely to listen to your grant proposals and objections.
In my limited experience in life, this strategy rarely works.
Whatever you do, please don’t give up. Continue to donate; continue your support–FSU is bigger than one man and it is bigger than all of us. It is an idea of intellectually honest cooperation to further the sciences, the humanities, and the observable truth.
Don’t let our transient disagreement with the transient Board of Trustees in its choice of a transient leader distract from the accomplishment and promising future of a 150 plus year Carnegie One Research University and its hundreds of thousands alumni and the hundreds of millions who have, knowingly or not, benefited from its discoveries.
The decision of who shall be FSU’s next President is done.
Please join me in offering full support to FSU’s Seventeenth President-designate, the Honorable John Thrasher.
If his actual job performance suggests such allegiance is unwarranted, I have confidence that we will respond appropriately.
In the meantime, one of FSU’s greatest strengths and defense mechanisms is its sense of humor. I chose to go to FSU for the same reasons I chose to be amongst most people and institutions I associate with–because of a demonstrable lighthearted humor, cooperation, and kindness.
So, say now, why are all the Environmental Science textbooks at Strozier Library now in the “fiction” section?
Of course, they won’t be. (But it’s still okay to make a joke here and there.)
Remember, “the fun never stops.”
Richard Junnier, Esq.
President, Junnier Law, P.A.
Immediate Past Chair of the Leon County Democratic Party