Florida State University President John Thrasher’s roots run deep in the Florida Legislature. With his friend and former Senate colleague Joe Negron slated to become the next Senate President, legislative stars could align for FSU.
The Senate Republican Caucus designated Joe Negron Wednesday, giving him the support he needs to as the next Senate President. Negron will succeed President Andy Gardiner and take up the gavel in the 2017 Session. One of his top priorities is improving Florida’s higher education system, which he sees as a driving force in strong economies.
“If you look around the country, if you see vibrant, sustainable economic development and high paying jobs, you almost always see a strong university presence,” he said.
Hours after Negron’s designation, John Thrasher outlined his new plans for FSU. On Thrasher’s list, and Negron’s, are recruiting and retaining accomplished faculty and updating infrastructure. Many of the students and faculty who opposed Thrasher’s Presidency see his legislative legacy as problematic. But Thrasher says Negron’s leadership could mean new opportunities for higher education.
“He knows higher education and I think will be a great, great partner, a great friend in this effort that we’re all about, of improving higher education,” he said.
When he takes over, Negron wants to transform Florida’s universities into what he calls national destinations, on par with University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and University of Virginia. But Thrasher has concerns for the 2016 Session as well, namely the campus carry bill, which would allow concealed weapons on college campuses. The measure is opposed by outspoken students, faculty and law enforcement, but it does find support in outside groups and some students. Thrasher himself says guns won’t make campuses safer.
“The shooting at Strozier last year further strengthened my resolve against guns on campus. Guns have no place on this campus,” he said.
Following a contentious leadership battle, Senate Republicans see Negron’s presidency as a move towards unity.