USF responds to Governor's information request
In more than 100 pages of data and explanations, University of South Florida President Judy Genshaft responded late Tuesday to Gov. Rick Scott's inquiry into the success of the state's universities. Last month, Scott asked Florida's 11 public institutions to answer 17 different questions, including how the schools meet employers' needs, how their courses integrate writing proficiency, critical thinking and science, and whether they keep track of students' success after graduation.
Does USF have measurable goals to meet employers' current needs? the governor asked. Yes, USF says.
Does it have measurable goals for each graduate in the areas of writing proficiency and critical thinking? Yes.
Does it have measurable goals for student success after graduation? Does it have measurable goals for the number of graduates with specific degrees such as science, technology, engineering, mathematics, nursing, etc.? Does it measure the readiness of new students to succeed at your university? Yes, yes, yes.
Each response included a lengthy explanation with substantiating data. Many of the university's individual academic programs keep track of their students' progress, Genshaft said, with the school's Career Center working to help connect those students with jobs.
The Florida Board of Governors, which oversees the state university system, also works to ensure that students' get a good bang for their buck. USF's response includes a description of board-mandated Academic Learning Compacts, which give students, parents and employers an overview of the skills and knowledge-base they can expect out of certain majors.
One goal USF does not have is one that aims to keep a certain amount of its graduates in Florida. Eighty percent of USF graduates do stay in-state after graduation, which may be an "ideal percentage," USF said, but it doesn't set any benchmarks.
"While USF strives to serve the State of Florida, its educational focus extends far beyond its borders while, at the same time, elevating the reputation of Florida’s SUS as an international force in higher education," the response says.
USF separated its response into four parts, for each of its campuses in Tampa, Sarasota, St. Petersburg and Lakeland. It's that unique system organization, USF President Judy Genshaft wrote, that makes the university so successful.
"In addition to having a strong and unified voice for higher education, the USF System seeks to find and capitalize on synergies and economies of scale among its institutions that are of benefit to students, faculty, staff, alumni, and communities," Genshaft wrote.
The response comes just a week after USF almost lost its campus in Lakeland. At a meeting of the Florida Board of Governors last Wednesday, USF Polytechnic made an impassioned bid to split off and become a separate university. But the governing body of the state university system instead placed a laundry list of conditions on the campus, delaying independence for at least several years.