Florida May Designate A Single University as State’s Online Hub

By: Jim Turner | Posted: February 15, 2013 3:55 AM
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Legislators and educators with ties to Florida State University have already expressed some displeasure that Gov. Rick Scott has singled out the University of Florida for a one-time, $15 million payment so the Gainesville campus can improve its national prestige.

The state’s top academia throughout the entire State University System may now be tested, as campuses vie to become the hub of Florida’s online offerings.

Rather than create an online only university as the House speaker had earlier proposed, the Florida Board of Governors may instead focus on designating one of the state’s existing campuses as the system’s online center.

The strategic planning committee of the Florida Board of Governors has agreed it would be better to try coordinating the more than 30,000 online programs already offered by the state’s universities.

“The designated university should also create a research center to develop cutting-edge technology and instructural design of online programs and ensure the success of online students,” a release from the State University System stated.

The proposal goes before the full Board of Governors on Feb. 21.

"The world of online higher education is ever-changing, and there are many opportunities for improvement," John D. Rood, chair of the strategic planning committee, stated in the release. 

"Through this process, we are confident Florida will emerge as an even stronger national leader in online education -- not only for providing high-quality offerings to our students, but for developing best practices that meet the strategic needs of Florida."

State University System Chancellor Frank Brogan proposed such a setup last month while speaking to reporters in the Capitol.

Legislators have been told that even without having to purchase acres of fields or put up any ivy-covered bricks and mortar, building a “world class” campus that exists strictly in the paperless global universe of the Internet for 30,000 to 50,000 students could run from $30 million to $70 million to set up, according to the Boston-based business strategy and investing consulting firm The Parthenon Group.

House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, recently sought to clarify his stance on online education while maintaining his support for using the Internet for classes and programs.

Reach Jim Turner at jturner@sunshinestatenews.com or at (772) 215-9889.

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