September 13, 2012
FORT MYERS -- Marking a continued commitment to accountability, the Florida Board of Governors on Thursday took a step toward securing performance-based funding for the State University System of Florida.
In years past, the Board asked the state Legislature for funding based solely on individual universities’ enrollments or special projects. Now the Board will seek $118 million specifically tied to universities work plans, with a focus on performance in key student-success areas. The Board voted to approve the request during its two-day meeting at Florida Gulf Coast University.
“It’s a very different approach,” said State University System Chancellor Frank Brogan. “We are not just asking for more money. We are seeking to show how these dollars would be used to move the System forward in the most transparent way.”
It is the Board’s expectation that the extra money would be in addition to a restoration of the $300 million one-time cut in this year’s state budget.
The Board is still working out exactly which metrics -- such as graduation rates or post-grad job success, for example -- would be used to determine funding at each of the System’s 12 universities.
Board Chair Dean Colson said the Board hoped to have that criteria, dubbed a “decision matrix,” completed before the Board hears requests for tuition differential next summer. The idea is that the matrix would not necessarily be a rigid formula, but rather would allow the Board to consider each universities’ different missions, goals and challenges individually.
There is plenty of information to choose from. The move comes on the heels of the Board’s nearly two-year effort to complete its three-part accountability framework, which includes a forward-looking strategic plan for the System through 2025, an annual accountability report that details performance on key metrics, and annual work plans for each university.
Speaking of those university work plans, during this week's meeting the Board heard an update of issues that emerged during the universities’ 2012-2013 work plan presentations at the Board’s last meeting in June. Those included a need to focus system-wide on improving graduation and retention rates, a continued effort to increase STEM degree production, concerns about student debt and an ongoing focus to identify and reduce academic program duplication.
The Board also received an addendum to Florida A&M University’s 2012-2013 work plan that includes a tighter focus on undergraduate education. The university plans to begin a new Academic Success Program that helps track and guide students through their degree programs, enhance tutorial services and peer mentoring, and hire at least 20 new faculty and academic advisers to enhance its academic quality, retention and graduation rates.
More meeting highlights:
The Board confirmed Larry Robinson as interim president of Florida A&M University. Robinson, former FAMU provost, previously served as assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; vice president for research and a professor in the FAMU Environmental Sciences Institute; and director of the NOAA Environmental Cooperative Science Center headquartered at FAMU. He was tapped by FAMU’s Board of Trustees following the resignation of FAMU President James Ammons in July. A search for a permanent FAMU president is underway.
The Board publicly noticed regulations related to student veterans, which allow those students priority in registering for classes and acceptance of military training as college credit. Already in practice by many of the state universities, this regulation further solidifies the System’s commitment to its student veterans.
Student Board member Cortez Whatley presented an upcoming student-driven campaign, called Aim Higher, that hopes to raise awareness about the importance of the state's investment in higher education.
The Board heard an update on System enrollment, which has grown steadily over the past few years, now up to about 335,000 students. The number of students in STEM degrees grew as well, by 25 percent over the last five years -- outpacing non-STEM degrees.
For more information, consult the meeting’s official minutes at www.flbog.edu. The Board’s next meeting is scheduled for Nov. 7-8 at New College of Florida in Sarasota.