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Wetherell Leaving FSU to ‘Relax’ and ‘Be a Real Person’

Florida State University President T.K Wetherell officially announced his retirement Wednesday at the university's Board of Trustees meeting after serving as the top man at the institution for six years.

“I cannot tell you how much we have enjoyed this, both me and my family,” Wetherell told the trustees. “It has truly been a dream come true for me and I wouldn't trade any minute for it for anything. It's been great.”

Wetherell, 63, and a former speaker of the Florida House, was the first Florida State alumnus to serve as president of the university. His contract does not expire until June 2011, and he has said he will stay until the trustees find a replacement.

Board of Trustees Chair Jim Smith told Wetherell that he wished he would reconsider, but that the panel had “respect for what you want to do.”

Wetherell's announcement also comes at a particularly difficult time for the university, which just approved a $56 million budget cut over three years and is having to eliminate nearly 200 positions. It is also facing NCAA sanctions over problems with the football program and a lawsuit from media outlets seeking records related to the sanctions.

The Board of Trustees did not set a deadline for a replacement to be named, but FSU general counsel Betty Steffens will chair the national search process and come back to the board with a plan on how a national search for a new president will be conducted. Board members were clear, though - they're in no rush.

“I'm determined that we're just not going to jump at an individual,” Smith said. “We're going to let it last until this board is comfortable, until we have the type of president that this board is comfortable through that process with.”

News that Wetherell was going to resign broke earlier this week and board members reacted with sadness. Some joked that they would vote against a resolution approving his retirement.

Gov. Charlie Crist told reporters Tuesday that he wished Wetherell would stay, but that he had to do what was right for him.

“I'm disappointed. I love TK,” Crist said.

Wetherell said he has been wrestling with the decision over the past year, and finally decided it was time to step down.

“I want to do some teaching. I want some time to relax and travel...just be a real person,” he said.

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