Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Task force charged with finding new college model

Florida's colleges and universities must begin producing more graduates if the state is to stay on the economic cutting edge, the head of one of the state's most influential business groups told education leaders Thursday.

More important, those graduates must be properly prepared to hit the ground running.

"That degree or certificate has to mean something," said Barney Bishop, president and chief executive officer of Associated Industries of Florida. "If all you're going to do is teach kids to think inside the box, we've already lost the race with Asia."

Bishop's remarks came at the first in a series of meetings of the Florida College Task Force, a group charged with making recommendations to the Legislature for the transition of some community colleges to four-year degree granting colleges.

Among those on the 11-member task force is University of South Florida president Judy Genshaft and Katherine Johnson, president of Pasco-Hernando Community College.

Bishop and other business leaders, including Chris Hart, president of Workforce Florida, and Susan Pareigis, president of the Council of 100, said they were optimistic about creating a new tier in Florida higher education but warned that there could be pitfalls.

"I'm very concerned we'll start cannibalizing each other," Pareigis said. "I sure would hate to create more of what we have and still have gaps in what we need."

Legislators, stressing the need for greater access to higher education, began talking last spring about turning some of Florida's 28 community colleges into "state colleges" that would continue to offer two-year degrees with an emphasis on local work force needs.

The colleges also would offer bachelor's degrees in high-needs areas like teaching and nursing.

On the plus side, more Florida students would earn four-year degrees, paying tuition that is 30 percent lower than at state universities. But among the details to be worked out by the task force is how the new degree programs would be distributed and how they would be funded.

If done correctly, Genshaft said, the new model has the potential to change the face of post-secondary education in Florida. She pointed to the relationship between USF and St. Petersburg College, which began offering baccalaureate degrees in 2001, as an example of a good working partnership between a state university and a four-year college.

"We're not offering the same things, which shows there's enough room for everyone," Genshaft said. "We can meet the needs of students and business both as long as we work collaboratively."

The task force's next meeting is scheduled for Oct. 2.

Donna Winchester can be reached at or (727) 893-8413.

Members of the Florida College System Task Force

David Armstrong, president, Broward College

Dean Colson, special education adviser to Gov. Charlie Crist

Charles Dassance, president, Central Florida Community College

Dennis Gallon, president, Palm Beach Community College

Judy Genshaft, president, University of South Florida

Katherine Johnson, president, Pasco-Hernando Community College

Art Keiser, chancellor, Keiser University

Arthur Kirk, president, Saint Leo College

William Law, president, Tallahassee Community College

Ann McGee, president, Seminole Community College

Steve Wallace, president, Florida Community College at Jacksonville

Task force charged with finding new college model 09/04/08 [Last modified: Saturday, September 6, 2008 4:10pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. North Korea denies torturing American detainee Otto Warmbier (w/video)


    SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea on Friday denied it cruelly treated or tortured an American student who was detained for more than year and died days after being released in a coma.

    Mourners line the street after the funeral of Otto Warmbier, Thursday, June 22, 2017, in Wyoming, Ohio. Warmbier, a 22-year-old University of Virginia undergraduate student who was sentenced in March 2016 to 15 years in prison with hard labor in North Korea, died this week, days after returning to the United States. [Associated Press]
  2. Johnny Depp jokes about assassinating President Trump at Glastonbury Festival (w/video)


    LOS ANGELES — Johnny Depp has asked a crowd at the Glastonbury Festival when was the last time an actor assassinated a president. The remarks came during a segment Thursday in which Depp was speaking about President Donald Trump.

    Actor Johnny Depp introduces a film at the Glastonbury music festival at Worthy Farm, in Somerset, England, Thursday, June 22, 2017. [Grant Pollard | Invision/AP]
  3. Morning after off day: Rays ready for slumping O's



  4. Florida education news: Charter schools, traveling man, lunch prices and more


    #HB7069: Now that it's law, HB 7069 has a new target on its back: Will it be challenged in court? Broward County Democrat Sen. Gary Farmer says he's doing all he can "to …

    Thousands of children attend Florida charter schools, which are growing in number and now stand to receive capital projects local tax revenue.
  5. Forecast: Hot, humid and mostly dry conditions prevail for St. Pete Pride weekend


    The threat of any lingering effects from Tropical Storm Cindy have passed, leaving behind a relatively dry — but hot and humid — St. Pete Pride weekend.

    Tampa Bay's 7-day forecast [WTSP]