The Florida Capitol radiated garnet and gold Thursday as lawmakers and Florida State University alumni and friends came together to celebrate FSU Day.
Booths lined the first three levels of the Capitol Rotunda, showcasing FSU’s world-class colleges and programs and the university’s high-achieving students and faculty.
For the second year in a row, Jeff Culhane, the voice for Florida State football and men’s basketball, emceed an outdoor pep rally featuring music by the FSU pep band Seminole Sound and performances from the FSU Cheerleaders and Flying High Circus.
Members of the Florida Legislature’s Seminole Caucus joined FSU officials, men’s baseball Coach Link Jarrett and members of the Board of Trustees for the festivities.
President Richard McCullough highlighted student success and the excellence of athletes both on the field and in the classroom.
“Across the board, our student-athletes are working hard,” McCullough said. “It’s been an incredible year – not only on the field but in the classroom. We have the highest GPA in our student-athletes in the history of FSU.”
McCullough congratulated Coach Brian Pensky and the FSU’s women’s soccer team’s fourth national championship and football Coach Mike Norvell for receiving two national Coach of the Year honors after the team had an undefeated regular season, won the conference championship and finished the year ranked No. 6 in the country.
McCullough lauded the university’s advancements, including increases in research, fundraising and student success measures, including retention rates.
The university has increased its research expenditures from $356 million in 2022 to $414 million in 2023.
“Our research initiatives are filled with bold and audacious ideas to build and improve health care and research in biomedical areas,” he said. “In addition, aerospace and advanced manufacturing will make a difference in people’s lives and contribute to the economies of our state and nation. And we’re not done yet!”
He said in terms of academics, FSU has never been stronger.
“Student success continues to be our top priority,” he said. “We’re investing in academic excellence to ensure students get a world-class education that will prepare them to be leaders in their careers and in their communities.”
McCullough said the university’s record 96% retention rate of freshman students is one of the best rates in the country and another indicator of FSU’s national leadership in student success.
“That’s a record for FSU and ranks us sixth in the nation among public universities,” he said. “Seventy-five percent of our students graduate in four years, 85 percent in 6 years, both records for FSU.”
He expressed solidarity with first-generation students and underscored the significance of student success, emphasizing that “whether you are from a privileged or challenged background, the graduation rate is the same.”
“Twenty-six percent of our students are first-generation — I am a first-generation student myself,” he said. “It transforms whole generations and lives through education — that is really the core of who we are at FSU.”
Coach Jarrett, an FSU alumnus and Tallahassee native, represented FSU Athletics and introduced three student-athletes: Connor Whittaker, Cam Smith and Daniel Cantu.
“My goal as a coach is for all 44 of our guys to be the best version of themselves — on the field and in the classroom,” Jarrett said. “When you meet our players, you can tell — regardless of what you know about them on the field — they have class and integrity.”
McCullough closed the festivities by thanking the Florida Legislature and Gov. Ron DeSantis for investing in FSU.
“We will continue to fight and climb and do everything that we can to make the state of Florida more proud of FSU,” the president said. “We are not only an academic powerhouse, we are also an athletic powerhouse. And there is no better time to be a Florida State Seminole.”