Florida colleges seek to combine forces to market themselves
Leaders of Florida's 28 community colleges sense they have a problem: The schools' inconsistent naming causes confusion about what they do, which is complicated by rising enrollment and shrinking funding.
That tends to detract from their influence among state decision makers, which in turn can hurt their operations in the regions they serve. They want to be players, especially as lawmakers turn their reform efforts to higher education this year and next.
To that end, the college presidents have come up with a joint marketing initiative that involves advertising, newsletters, web sites and social media. As they state in a presentation that goes to the State Board of Education on Tuesday, "The Florida College System must maximize its influence with Florida legislators and Governor Rick Scott to: Set priorities, guide policies, secure funding [and] shape its future."
We've already seen former state representative Joe Pickens, now president of St. Johns River State College, take a much higher profile in pushing for the college system. And we've heard many legislators talk about how to reduce mission overlap among high schools, colleges and universities. But it's the big university presidents who have taken the lead in the debate to date.
Perhaps this effort can change the field -- if there's enough money to pay for it. Stay tuned.