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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Dear Chancellor Brogan, We can work together

11

February

First, Eckerd College president Donald Eastman sent a letter to Gov. Rick Scott urging his support of private, not-for-profit college and universities.

Next, Florida State University System chancellor Frank Brogan penned a response to Eastman, suggesting that the public universities need a financial boost, and should not be overlooked in support of private schools. 

Now it's Eastman's turn again. He has answered Brogan, sending a copy to the Gradebook, saying that Brogan misinterpreted the original message. He writes, in part:

"The state needs an excellent public college and university system. (I am proud of my Ph.D. from the University of Florida and of the many excellent students, faculty, and staff there and at other SUS institutions.) However, utilizing private colleges and universities more effectively to address Florida’s higher education needs can save the taxpayers a good deal of money."

Read on for the full text of Eastman's latest missive. Isn't it cool to have this debate about higher education funding right here on the Gradebook?

 

Dear Chancellor Brogan:

Your response to my January 4, 2011, op-ed in the St. Petersburg Times indicated that you misinterpreted both my intent (to inject some fresh thinking into the financial challenges of higher education in Florida) and my supporting data (drawn, in fact, from several of the state’s recent publications). 

Within two days of receiving my op-ed, the Governor’s Office requested the source of the figures in my article. I cited reliable sources such as the May 2010 Issue Brief from the Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy and “2009 Florida Featured Facts” from the SREB (Southern Regional Education Board) Fact Book on Higher Education.  

In your response, you refer to the Board of Governors 2010 Annual Report, adopted three weeks after the publication of my op-ed. The number I cited is illustrated in the graph on page 5 of your “State University System of Florida 2010 Dashboard,” entitled, “Appropriated Funding per Actual Student FTE/Total per FTE.”  The figure in the graph also approximates the average number that the James Madison Institute reported in 2003: “The average cost to taxpayers for each student enrolled in the State University System (SUS) has been calculated in several different ways by different education authorities. The average of these different methods is $12,181.” 

Let me summarize the two key points of my op-ed: 

In order to meet its higher education needs, there are great financial advantages for Florida to make private (non-profit) institutions a much more central part of its planning.

The state needs an excellent public college and university system. (I am proud of my Ph.D. from the University of Florida and of the many excellent students, faculty, and staff there and at other SUS institutions.) However, utilizing private colleges and universities more effectively to address Florida’s higher education needs can save the taxpayers a good deal of money.

With the increasing numbers of Floridians expected to come of college-going age in the coming years, Florida’s challenge is not simply to provide a high-quality education for those already “on the ground,” but also for those to come. Private higher education certainly cannot fix all the challenges for Florida’s higher education system, but a smarter use of the state’s resources will let us help even more than we do now.

Thank you for your service to the State University System and to higher education in Florida.

Sincerely, Dr. Donald R. Eastman III

 

[Last modified: Friday, February 11, 2011 12:56pm]

    

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