Florida moves toward allowing 12th university
Nov 9, 2011
The following article was published in the Orlando Sentinel on November 9, 2011:
State moves toward allowing 12th university
By Denise-Marie Balona
A branch campus of the University of South Florida will be allowed to become an independent university — but only if it meets a list of goals, the Florida Board of Governors decided Wednesday night.
Community leaders in Polk County and some state legislators have pushed for USF Polytechnic in Lakeland to become the state’s 12th university.
embers, however, oppose the change, as do key leaders at USF.
The Board of Governors, which oversees Florida’s public universities, voted to give the campus a chance to show it can stand on its own because of the state’s urgent need for graduates in the fields of applied science and technology.
Some of the benchmarks the school would have to achieve include acquiring its own accreditation, boosting its enrollment and having a variety of buildings, including two residence halls, in place.
The school also has to ensure that the vast majority of its students concentrate in the so-called STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and math — or STEM-related programs.
State Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, spoke in support of allowing Polytechnic to become its own university.
“It gives a laser focus on precisely and exclusively the degrees and skills Florida’s economy needs now and needs in the decade ahead,” said Gaetz, Senate president-designate.
Board members spent several hours Wednesday debating the issue, which has caused tension between Polytechnic and the main USF campus.
The board agreed to monitor the campus’ progress on a regular basis.