Support the Florida State University System, Frank Brogan urges
In January, Eckerd College president Donald Eastman penned an open letter to Florida Gov. Rick Scott, urging Scott to put more state resources into private, nonprofit colleges. Eastman suggested the investment would be better than subsidizing the State University System.
Universities chancellor Frank Brogan begs to differ. He writes in a letter to Eastman, which he sent to the Gradebook, that the SUS provides needed academic choices, and that the financial picture that Eastman portrays is misleading:
"A well-educated workforce is key to our economic recovery and prosperity. The State has had a long-time fiscal partnership with the independent colleges and universities, including, but not limited to, what might be considered a form of a higher education voucher system called the FRAG, or Florida Resident Access Grant, which provides State funds for students to attend private institutions, such as Eckerd College. The Independent Colleges and Universities (ICUF), of which Eckerd College is a member, enjoys a student population made possible in part by virtue of this underwriting.
"However, in asking the Governor to increase funding for the FRAG, you state in your letter that approximately $13,000 is provided in public funding per seat per year to the 11 State universities, and that private colleges and universities can deliver a better bargain. However, the Governor's Office of Policy & Budget — utilizing data regularly secured and monitored by the State University System Board of Governors — has provided a per seat number of $6,468, which is in the range of the accepted number also utilized by the Legislature in its budget planning every year. Recently, the Board of Governors adopted its 2010 Annual Report, which has this annual figure as well.
"Our State universities are doing all they can to grapple with fiscal demands, as is the rest of the State, and I am proud of the simple fact that the State University System of Florida is recognized nationally as being very productive and efficient with its resources. The efficiency of the State University System has been recognized in various national publications, including a recent, renown, and well-regarded report entitled, “The Dreaded “P” Word: An Examination of Productivity in Public Postsecondary Education.” Several items in the report highlight Florida's prominent standing, including the fact that the State University System’s top ranking reflects the overall success of its public postsecondary systems, including the articulation partnerships that exist between the Florida College System (community and state colleges) and the State University System. Additionally, Florida is ranked first in productivity as measured by total funding per credential (degrees and certificates) for all public postsecondary education – and graduating our students remains a top priority for all of us involved in higher education.
"Focusing our limited state resources in high-demand areas not only will provide productive graduates needed by Florida's businesses but productive students who graduate and tend to leave with less loans or debt than a student attending a non-State university.
"The underwriting from the State provided to students to attend private colleges and universities has given more choices and more access to all of our students. The leader of ICUF and I, and others who served on the Governor’s transition team for education issues, enjoyed considerable discussion about these issues — in fact, we supported the continuation of the FRAG. It is my hope that you will reconsider your misguided perceptions of the State University System of Florida and, in the future, use accurate data whenever you feel comparisons are necessary.
Frank T. Brogan, Chancellor
State University System of Florida"