Report: Splitting FSU-FAMU Engineering School Could Cost $1 Billion

Courtesy of FSU
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By: Lanetra Bennett
January 27, 2015

Tallahassee, FL - "Cost is a significant factor in the choice between a joint college of engineering, and two differentiated colleges." Those are the words in the final report of the study looking at the implications of separating the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering.

The final report says it could cost $1 billion to split the engineering college--$500 million to set up a new FSU engineering college, and $500 million to invest in FAMU.

Rep. Alan Williams says, "To find a billion dollars in our budget is going to be very difficult. What we can do is work within the system that we have now and figure out how can we work out some of the differences that may exist."

Rep. Williams adds, "It's [the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering] is a gem in the community."

FSU President John Thrasher suggested the split last year when he was a state senator. He said it would help FSU become a top 25 school.

The study lists some of the pros of staying a joint college: it requires no start-up funding, it is a model of cooperation between a public white majority university and a public HBCU, it represents the kind of educational innovation that is consistent with Title VI, the mission addresses the production of women and minority graduates in engineering, and it has graduated more than 5,000 engineers at the BS level, more than 1,000 engineers at the MS level and more than 200 engineers at the Ph.D. level.

Christina Kale, a FAMU engineering student, says, "I think it's better to keep us and use that billion dollars to go to toward maybe getting more resources for the school. I think that would better help the students."

The study says if the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering does remain as a joint entity, there would be some changes that need to be made to the current institution.

The study says cons of staying together are: renovations are needed, enrollment from FAMU has declined by 46 percent between fall 2003 and fall 2013, the mission is not being achieved, the management agreement that guides the operation of the Joint College is cumbersome, ineffective, and interferes with the pursuit of the mission, and the mission shear between the universities is a realty that is rooted in different histories and philosophies.

President Thrasher was not available for comment at the time of this story. We also haven't heard back from FAMU.

It's now up to both universities and the Board of Governors to discuss a final decision to propose to the legislature.

News Release: WCTV Eyewitness News
January 27, 2015

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- A new study shows that splitting the FSU-FAMU College of Engineering could potentially cost as much as $1 billion.

The report from the Collaborative Braintrust Consulting Firm says that changes are also needed to the program if it were to stay a single institution.

According to the study, the estimated amount that would need to be invested to set up a top 25 engineering school for each respective university is around $500 million.

The News Service of Florida reports that the study doesn't take a position on the possible engineering school split but looks at the pros and cons and going with either approach.

The study also points out that federal civil-rights laws could bar setting up two identical schools in Tallahassee. A new engineering college could have to be relocated elsewhere, similar in fashion to the FAMU College of Law, located in Orlando.

The schools may have to provide different programs if they were both to set up new colleges in Tallahassee.

The study also looks at the problems at the current school such as declining enrollment by Florida A&M students and the resources that each school provides to the college and its faculty.

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