I went to school at the University of Illinois at Chicago. For a school whose name didn’t command much attention in the state much less outside of it, one thing you heard constantly on campus was that we were a “Research I” university. Among other things, that meant research was a big priority for us, and we got a lot of funding for it, and we prided ourselves on the designation. (Take that, Northwestern.)
The Carnegie Foundation doesn’t use that classification system anymore, but Florida State University was also a Research I university.
That’s just one of the reasons it’s appalling that the next President of FSU might be someone who doesn’t have much faith in the scientific process.
Republican State Senator John Thrasher (above) is one of the four candidates to take over the school’s top position. In an open forum with students and faculty members yesterday, Thrasher was asked softball questions about evolution and climate change — and he botched them both:
The next person to pose a question, law professor Mark Seidenfeld, asked Thrasher if he believed in evolution.
“I have a great faith in my life that has guided me in my life in a lot of things I believe in,” Thrasher said.
College of Communication professor Andy Opel pressed Thrasher on climate change, asking him if believed it is real. “Do you accept the science behind it,” Opel said.
Like Gov. Rick Scott, whose reelection campaign Thrasher co-chairs, Thrasher declined to give a specific response. At that point, two students in the front row appeared to Thrasher to be laughing at his answer.
He threatened to leave, saying he “would not be heckled.”
The correct answer to those two questions would have been, “I don’t believe in evolution. I accept evolution. It’s settled science!” and “The scientific community overwhelmingly accepts the reality of climate change and so do I.”
Not “Faith wins!” and “Stop laughing at me.”
By the way, the evasive nature of his response to the evolution question is exactly what a Creationist would say when he knows a more direct answer would doom his candidacy.
This is the guy who wants to run a university that takes its science seriously? Pathetic. (Thrasher is also the only one of the four candidates to have no experience in academia.)
I hope, in any future interviews, he gets asked the same questions again. The students and faculty members deserve direct responses. There are plenty of political reasons not to vote for Thrasher, but when a candidate can’t even admit to accepting basic science, a legitimate university isn’t the place for him.
Let him apply to school worthy of his talents. I’m sure he’ll make the short list whenever Liberty University needs a new leader.