Florida Poly to open in August despite enrollment concerns
Florida's newest university is scheduled to open in two months. According to Florida Polytechnic University's leaders, including newly appointed president Randy Avent, all systems are "go."
But there are concerns. Although the school says it has received deposits from more than 550 students, members of the Board of Governors expressed concern Polytechic may not meet its 500-student enrollment projection when it opens its doors Aug. 25. The school has not yet received commitments from enough students to reach its enrollment goal of 500 when it opens its doors Aug. 25, but Avent and chief operating officer Ava Parker said there is still time to reach that number and they are working hard to make sure these students show up as planned. Even if they do, the mix of students is apparently way off projections.
Initially, the school wanted half of its students to be true freshmen and the other half to be transfer or graduate students. Right now, the balance is skewing much more heavily toward first-year students, Parker said during a presentation on the school's progress.
The school's foundation, which didn't receive nonprofit status until December, has raised about $2 million to cover scholarships for the first cohort of students. Freshman will live on campus in a dormitory now under construction.
The biggest issue that hinders recruitment at Polytechnic is its lack of accreditation due to its fast-tracked split from the University of South Florida. The school believes it will get accreditation on its first try, but that can't happen until after it graduates its first class of students in Spring 2016
Representatives from the state Board of Governors visited the Lakeland campus last month and say the school appears to be on track to open its doors and is also making progress on mandates outlined in the law establishing the state's 12th public university.
The BOG confirmed Avent's appointment today; he starts July 7. A computer science professor by trade, he most recently served as associate vice chancellor of research development at North Carolina State University.
Note: This post was updated to clarify a statement about enrollment projections.