Incoming Florida Senate president shifts chamber's focus to higher education
Incoming Florida Senate president Joe Negron has made clear his intention to focus his chamber, which has spent many years working on K-12 education issues, on colleges and universities.
He reiterated his point Monday with the announcement of his planned State University System listening tour.
Negron sent a memo to all senators inviting them to participate in the weeklong endeavor, which will take him to the main campuses of all the state's universities. He wrote:
"As Florida continues to recover from the recent recession, the Senate has supported the establishment and continued increase of performance funding to reward universities that link affordable, rigorous education programs with private sector employment. We also established stringent criteria for preeminent universities whose research expenditures and academic standards, particularly for graduate study, have earned well-respected national rankings. We set aside significant funding for emerging preeminent universities to support Florida institutions that are working to achieve preeminent status. Our state has also awarded more than 700 Benacquisto Scholarships to National Merit Scholars who have chosen to study in Florida.
"These recent budget and policy enhancements certainly reflect the Senate's strong commitment to ensuring Florida's State University System has the resources to graduate students who are equipped to compete and lead in a global economy. However, if Florida is going to be home to several national elite destination universities, we still have much work to do."
Committee work can take the process only so far, Negron suggested. So he wants to get out in the field and hear from students, faculty and staff.
The tour, scheduled for the week of April 18, will include discussions about programs, goals and student experiences. Its stops are:
MONDAY, APRIL 18TH
University of West Florida (Pensacola)
Florida State University (Tallahassee)
Florida A&M University (Tallahassee)
TUESDAY, APRIL 19TH
University of North Florida (Jacksonville)
University of Florida (Gainesville)
University of Central Florida (Orlando)
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 20TH
Florida Polytechnic University (Lakeland)
University of South Florida (Tampa)
New College of Florida (Sarasota)
THURSDAY, APRIL 21ST
Florida Gulf Coast University (Ft. Myers)
Florida International University (Miami)
Florida Atlantic University (Boca Raton)