Friday, May 25, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Another higher ed power play

Florida taxpayers already are paying for one engineering school in Tallahassee, and they should not have to pay for two. A sudden plan to dismantle the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering and create separate schools is a power play by an influential state senator and Florida State University alumnus to hand FSU its own engineering school. This is another example of the Legislature letting raw politics rather than sound policy rule higher education. It circumvents the established route for setting education spending priorities, stands to cost taxpayers millions and should be stopped cold.

Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, an FSU alumnus and a potential candidate for the university's presidency, set aside $13 million in the Senate budget to begin the process of dismantling the engineering college and creating separate colleges for each university. Supporters of the plan, including FSU interim president Garnett S. Stokes, say the idea fits with the university's goal to become one of the top 25 public research schools in the nation. A stand-alone FSU engineering school, Stokes contends, would allow the university to create new programs with other schools already on FSU's campus and to recruit more prestigious faculty.

But Florida A&M supporters understandably fear that splitting the engineering college, which was founded in 1982, would ultimately starve FAMU of resources and result in the shuttering of its engineering program. Five former FAMU presidents oppose the split and want the Legislature to put more money toward the existing school. FAMU president Elmira Mangum also does not support the divestment. Early plans call for FAMU to keep both its share of the money now going to the joint engineering schools and FSU's share. But among FAMU supporters there is little confidence in the long-term sustainability of that plan. FAMU leaders estimate that the cost of building a new school on its campus would be at least $100 million.

Thrasher's proposal understandably raises eyebrows among FAMU supporters who have long questioned the state's commitment to the school, Florida's only public historically black university. There is reason for their concern. In 1968, FAMU's law school closed when the Legislature stopped funding it and transferred support to FSU's newly opened law school. FAMU's law school was reinstated in 2000 with a campus in Orlando and was backed by Thrasher, who was then House speaker.

Legislators have learned nothing from the Florida Polytech University debacle. It was created two years ago to satisfy another powerful senator, and it will have an engineering school. Now here we go again. As legislators negotiate a final state budget this week, the House leadership should not go along with Thrasher's FSU grab. If two engineering schools in Tallahassee is such a good idea and worth investing tens of millions in public money, then it will be a solid plan a year from now after the Board of Governors, trustees from both universities, students and the public have vetted it.

Comments
Editorial: Welcome Bayshore changes still canít stop bad judgment

Editorial: Welcome Bayshore changes still canít stop bad judgment

Itís human nature in following any tragedy to imagine: How could this have been prevented? On that score, the city of Tampa responded appropriately to the deaths this week of a mother and her toddler whom police say were hit by a teenage driver racin...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Editorial: Filling Rocky Point lagoon to build townhomes is an empty-headed idea

Editorial: Filling Rocky Point lagoon to build townhomes is an empty-headed idea

One of the worst ideas in a long time in the field of urban planning received a blessing this month when the Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission approved a land-use change for a project that calls for filling three acres of water insi...
Published: 05/25/18
Editorial: Searching for the real Adam Putnam

Editorial: Searching for the real Adam Putnam

Send out an Amber Alert for Adam Putnam. The red-haired, affable fellow who has served capably as a state legislator, member of Congress and agriculture commissioner is missing. In his place is a far-right caricature who has branded himself as a prou...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Editorial: A strong economic case for restoring voting rights for felons

Editorial: A strong economic case for restoring voting rights for felons

Floridians are paying a steep price for a system that makes it as difficult as possible for people who leave prison to reintegrate into civic life. Gov. Rick Scottís clemency process isnít just archaic and cruel ó it also wastes enormous public resou...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Editorial: Trump right to cancel North Korea talks on nuclear weapons

Editorial: Trump right to cancel North Korea talks on nuclear weapons

Regardless of the reason, the cancellation of the U.S.-North Korea summit to address Pyonyangís nuclear program is hardly the worst possible outcome of this high-stakes diplomatic gamble. President Donald Trump was unprepared, North Koreaís Kim Jong ...
Published: 05/24/18
Updated: 05/25/18

NFL kneels before the altar of profits

The owners of the 32 National Football League teams sent a wrongheaded and, frankly, un-American message to their players Wednesday: Expressing your opinion during the national anthem is no longer permitted."A club will be fined by the League if its ...
Published: 05/24/18

Editorial: A positive first step in ensuring student access at USFSP

As a task force sorts out countless details involved in folding the University of South Florida St. Petersburg back into the major research university based in Tampa, ensuring access for good Pinellas students remains a concern. An enhanced cooperati...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Legislation that waters down the 2010 Dodd-Frank law and was sent to President Donald Trump this week is a mixed bag at best. Some provisions recognize that Congress may have gone too far in some areas in the wake of the Great Recession to place new ...
Published: 05/23/18
Updated: 05/24/18
Editorial: Honoring our fallen soldiers on Memorial Day

Editorial: Honoring our fallen soldiers on Memorial Day

The rising tensions with Iran, the resurgence of violence in the Mideast and the uncertainty over a nuclear disarmament deal with North Korea combine to create an unsettling time this Memorial Day. These grave threats to peace are another reminder of...
Updated: 8 hours ago

Another voice: The chutzpah of these men

A new phase of the #MeToo movement may be upon us. Call it the "not so fast" era: Powerful men who plotted career comebacks mere months after being taken down by accusations of sexual misconduct now face even more alarming claims.Mario Batali, the ce...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/23/18