Thursday, January 18, 2018
Education

State higher ed leaders meet today to discuss the future of Florida Polytechnic

Florida Polytechnic is on its way to becoming the state's 12th university, with higher education leaders meeting today in Daytona Beach to talk about the process.

It's not the first meeting of the Board of Governors task force charged with overseeing the transition of the University of South Florida's Lakeland branch campus into independence, but it is the first time the group is meeting since Gov. Rick Scott gave the new university his rubber stamp last month.

By signing SB 1994, Scott brought Florida Polytechnic to life right away — a priority for departing Senate budget chairman JD Alexander, R-Lake Wales. That move shortcut a path already laid out by the Board of Governors, which oversees the state university system.

Last year, the board had set a number of benchmarks for the school to meet before it would have been allowed to break away, including a minimum enrollment, accreditation and buildings on its campus. The bill signed by Scott includes those benchmarks, but not as conditions for independence.

Beginning July 1, the school will now be on its own, starting with all the assets previously allotted to USF Polytechnic. The Governor and Board of Governors are now seeking applicants to the new university's Board of Trustees.

Today, at a meeting at Daytona State College, members of the Board of Governors will hear from USF President Judy Genshaft and several members of her administration about the status of the new Lakeland campus's construction, which has been in USF's plans long before USF Poly's cry for independence; the Board of Governors' lawyer, chief academic officer and chief financial officer on issues of governance, legalities, academics and finances; and Joe Glover, provost at the University of Florida. UF was tapped in the bill to help the new school — which will focus on science, technology, engineering and math fields — get started.

Kim Wilmath can be reached at [email protected] or 813-226-3337.

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