Private colleges thrive by serving students | March 8, commentary
Offering quality higher education
The article by Eckerd College president Don Eastman was stimulating and invites a thoughtful response. Eastman asserts that public universities do not make undergraduate students a priority; that every public university wants to be a research university; that most faculty members are not full-time professors; that little mentoring or advising is provided; that student-teacher ratios are scandalous; and that public institutions reveal a factory mentality, etc.
Good grief, Don! We at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg are disappointed with the views you expressed. You are a scholar, a great administrator and a leader. As such, facts should influence your opinion.
We at USFSP consider ourselves a proud regional university within a strong public system. We have a true commitment to undergraduate students, whether they live on campus or in the community. We served 6,058 students during the fall 2009 semester. Undergraduate students represented approximately 85 percent of that number. The majority of our courses, from freshman general education courses to the graduate thesis, are taught by full-time faculty members.
Our faculty members are academics with extensive records of publication and research. They incorporate this scholarship into their pedagogy every day, enriching the classroom experience. We are dedicated to advising and supporting students. Our faculty, academic advisers, registrar's office and financial aid advisers spend countless hours assisting students.
USFSP offers relatively small classes and has a relatively low student-teacher ratio. Our undergraduates collaborate on research with faculty and many are co-authors on scholarly publications. Eastman and the community are invited to attend the events of our upcoming Research Month to see what students and faculty are accomplishing together.
USFSP isn't home to many athletic teams, but we are home to champion sailors. We'll see you at the starting buoy. Game on, Don!
Margaret Sullivan, regional chancellor, USF St. Petersburg
Why it's "Locker" | March 9
A source of pride at the Oscar ceremonies
Steve Persall's article on why Hurt Locker won the Oscar for best picture at this year's Academy Awards hit home. For me, seeing the movie was an amazing experience. I felt I was on the streets of Baghdad, not knowing where, how and (most frightening) when the next terrorist bomb might explode. It was horrible. To watch the portrayal of American soldiers attempt to defuse bombs intended primarily to slaughter civilians caused me to experience what the war in Iraq is about.
The other evening (along with millions of others), I watched the Academy Awards. I was happy when Kathryn Bigelow deservedly received the best director Oscar and when Hurt Locker won the best picture. Then, when Bigelow dedicated her Oscar to the American men and women in uniform, declaring: "May they come home safe," I never felt greater pride in being an American.
Though a registered independent, I generally support policies espoused by Democrats such as the proposed health plan. Beyond partisan politics, however, I'm an American who loves his nation, cherishes his freedom, and remains in awe of the men and women who defend our liberty and safety and the liberty and safety of free peoples around the world. Thank you, Mr. Persall, for pointing out that the winner of the Academy Awards was indeed about "now."
Michael Swygert, St. Petersburg
Responsible federal contracts for workers March 7, Robyn Blumner column
No way to run a business
What has our country come to? The greatest capitalist state in history should now adopt "co-determined" boards as they do in Germany? Germany? Western Europe? Only someone who has never had to make a payroll would make that kind of recommendation. I have had to contend with the worker councils of Europe. Let me assure you that they are not business-friendly.
The fact is that employee costs (salaries, benefits, etc.) are the largest single expense item for most businesses. If you can't control these and all other expenses, you can't operate a profitable, growth-oriented business, which will then hire more employees. You create wealth in America, you don't share it arbitrarily.
Paul Natale, Clearwater
LeMieux works to build a brand | March 7
It's just self-promotion
The story on the former lobbyist turned U.S. senator, George LeMieux, had me laughing out loud. So his big accomplishment as Charlie Crist's replacement for the underachieving Mel Martinez is that he held a press conference to take credit for something he had almost nothing to do with?
Just what we don't need right now, more empty suits! LeMieux, as described perfectly in this article, is following Martinez and Crist, building his "brand" on hollow talk, photo-ops and media hype.
As the article states, "LeMieux's promotional campaign is relentless." But what exactly is he "promoting"? How about doing something for the people of this state? Wouldn't that a be a better way for George LeMieux to "build" his "brand"?
Mike Nuckols, Bradenton
Ban on texting
Our state Legislature is an embarrassment. In attempting to address serious problems affecting Floridians, it's acting more like a senior citizen taking a bite out of an apple without his teeth.
Last year it passed a bill which was hailed as a way to decrease deaths in the state from prescription drugs getting into the wrong hands. Problem was there was no financing to implement it.
Now they're about to pass a bill banning texting, but only as a secondary offense. What a joke! That won't do anything to keep those who have found texting, as well as using cell phones, a "necessity" while driving. I suspect that most legislators are guilty of those acts, as well as those who contribute much to their campaigns — lawyers and doctors.
David Lubin, Tampa
I am highly incensed that the government is using my tax money to inform me that I will be receiving a census form soon. What a waste of time and other resources!
Virginia Murray, St. Petersburg