ST. PETERSBURG — The president of Florida International University and former chancellor of the State University System says work needs to be done earlier when it comes to getting Florida's students into STEM programs.
Mark Rosenberg, who met Monday with the St. Petersburg Times' editorial board, said by the time many students get to college, it's too late for them to jump into demanding courses in science, technology, engineering or math.
"It's ultimately a pipeline issue," Rosenberg said. "By the time they get to us, they're not qualified."
Rosenberg also touched on teacher tenure, saying that it's good to have a conversation about better post-tenure evaluations. But he doesn't think the practice is going anywhere, nor should it. "I'm pretty bullish on tenure," he said.
Rosenberg, who studied political science, became FIU's president in 2009, when he stepped down from the state chancellor post he had held since 2005. Before that, he was at FIU for more than 30 years, including several years serving as provost.
Rosenberg acknowledged the increasing pressure on universities to function as economic drivers. Bring it on, he said. For too long, expectations for schools in the business world have been too low, he said. "I think that's a positive thing, that pressure."
Budget cuts have been tough, but because of the freedom to increase tuition by up to 15 percent per year, the universities haven't been hurt as much as they could have been.
"Because of the flexibility on tuition," Rosenberg said. "We're not in a fetal position."
In the next 10 years, he said, he hopes to grow FIU from 48,000 to 62,000 students.
His comments come just a couple of weeks before the start of next year's legislative session, where state leaders are likely to take up many of those issues.
Kim Wilmath can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3337.