BOG day 2: USF Poly buzz is in the air
The second day meeting of the Florida Board of Governors in Miami just began with a discussion about adult degree completion -- finding ways to help former students return to school and earn their diplomas after dropping out. It's an interesting program, no doubt, but if you listen the whispers around the room, its obvious many peoples' minds are on another presentation set to take place in a couple hours.
That would be the big USF Polytechnic discussion, prompted by calls from Polk County leaders to separate the campus from the USF system and make it independent. The Lakeland campus's regional chancellor, Marshall Goodman, is set to give a presentation on the school's "uniqueness" at 10:30 a.m. There's nothing on the agenda that hints at a discussion about severing the school's ties to USF, but it's hard to imagine the issue won't come up.
The board room here at Florida International University is quickly filling with leaders from USF and USF Polytechnic. And guess who also showed up: J.D. Alexander, the state senate budget chairman who helped get $35 million in funding for a new USF Poly campus during last legislative session. Alexander, R-Lake Wales, has been a loud voice in the calls for separation. He recently took his push all the way to Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who has not yet weighed in.
We asked Alexander whether he planned to speak today. He says he's heard there are some questions about finances, and he wanted to make himself available to answer them.