Polytechnic Backers Post Website, Trustee Interviews Continue
The applicant process remains underway for the new Florida Polytechnic University trustees, with no appointments being considered this week by the State Board of Governors.
Meanwhile, community and business leaders in Polk County that have supported the split of the University of South Florida’s Lakeland campus into its own school, have launched a website -- www.floridapolyvision.com -- to combat the criticism that has been heaped on the new state university.
“We invite everyone across Polk County and all of Florida to visit www.floridapolyvision.com and learn what our group is truly about,” Cliff Otto, co-chair for Florida Poly Vision, stated in a release.
“We want people to know the real and tangible facts when it comes to the current standing and immediate future of Florida Polytechnic and all that it can truly accomplish. Much has been speculated and circulated in the media and the local community, resulting in a generally pessimistic outlook for the university.
With 2 million new STEM jobs to be created by 2014, Florida Polytechnic will be a breeding ground for the skilled STEM graduates our state and nation critically need and the sooner we embrace its potential, the sooner we will see this become a reality.”
The state’s 12th public university, Florida Polytechnic University, was approved over the objections of some legislators, students and officials in the Lakeland area.
“By communicating the facts and clarifying what is real and what is not, we believe that much-needed optimism and belief in the success of Florida Polytechnic can be restored for some, and newly-achieved for others,” Vic Story, co-chair for Florida Poly Vision, stated in the release. “Until the university’s official administration is put in place, we seek to be an informed voice to provide public clarity surrounding Florida Polytechnic’s future and assist our new university in any way possible.”
Gov. Rick Scott signed HB 1994, creating the independent school by splitting off the 14-year-old branch campus from USF. In a statement with the signing, Scott declared the school will be "vital to our economy in the years to come."
One of the topics that the new board of trustees will have to immediately tackle is accreditation.
The school will open without accreditation from the Atlanta-based Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
The split had been approved by the Florida Board of Governors last fall, but with a stipulation that the new school would remain part of Tampa-based USF until receiving accreditation. Accreditation typically takes three to five years.
On Tuesday, the chair of the Board of Governors’ trustee nominating and development committee, Mori Hosseini of Daytona Beach, announced the trustee application process remains underway.
“Creating a new university is a rare and remarkable opportunity, and appointing a well-qualified, diverse and effective charter board of trustees will be critical for this new institution’s success,” Hosseini stated in a release.
“We are working closely with the governor’s appointments office to avoid any appointee duplication -- we must ensure that the final full slate of trustees embodies a wide range of skills, professional experiences, and cultural diversity that will help us build Florida Polytechnic University.”
“Quality is driving this process, and we are identifying and vetting our most-qualified candidates so that the Board of Governors can announce its appointments in the coming weeks,” Hosseini added.
In addition to accreditation, the charter class of trustees will have to reach the following benchmarks by Dec. 31, 2016:
• Initiate the development of the new programs in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
• Seek discipline-specific accreditation for programs.
• Attain a minimum FTE (student headcount or full-time equivalent enrollment) of 1,244, with a minimum 50 percent of that FTE in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, and 20 percent in programs related to those fields.
• Complete facilities and infrastructure, including the science and technology building, phase I of the wellness center, and a residence hall or halls containing no fewer than 190 beds.
• Have the ability to provide, either directly or where feasible through a shared services model, administration of financial aid, admissions, student support, information technology, and finance and accounting with an internal audit function.
Scott appoints six of the 13 members, with the Board of Governors of the State University System appointing five members. One faculty member and the student body president of the university also serve.