John Thrasher, a Florida State University alumnus and former state legislator, is the university’s 15th president and will be the speaker during our Saturday Lunch Session at this year’s conference. Thrasher earned a bachelor’s degree in business from Florida State in 1965. He subsequently 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 1996-2008. 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, where he supported legislation such as the “A+ Education Plan” and the largest tax cut in Florida history. He was elected to the Florida Senate in 2009 and subsequently re-elected. He served as chairman for the Republican Party of Florida in 2010. As a senator, Thrasher served as the chair of the Rules Committee and was involved in the Appropriations, Community Affairs, Ethics and Elections, Gaming, Judiciary, Regulated Industries, and Joint Legislative Budget Commission committees. He also served on the Appropriations Subcommittees on Education as well as Health and Human Services. From 2001 to 2005, Thrasher was the first chair of Florida State University’s Board of Trustees. In 2002, 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.