Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Tuesday May 8: Public Input a Must For University Task Force

By Sylvia Gurinsky
After slapping Florida's higher education system with one hand, Gov. Rick Scott is making a show of reaching out with the other.

Scott approved a budget by the Florida Legislature that chopped university funding - and also signed into law the political creation of Florida Polytechnic University.

Now, he is putting together a task force to study the university system.

So far, the appointments made by Scott and the Board of Governors, which oversees the university system, are North Florida-heavy. Lawmakers have yet to appoint their choices. Here's a suggestion: Look to the south, including the areas of Florida International and Florida Atlantic universities.

Also look to former Gov. and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham for advice. As a staunch advocate of Florida's university system, no current or former politician knows more about it.

Once the task force is established, members need to make sure the public - particularly those who have a direct connection to universities - have strong input. Having hearings at all 11 existing universities wouldn't be a bad way to start. Neither would posting items of note at social media sites, so the biggest investors in higher education - the students - can see them and comment.

Heaven knows what Scott's motivation is for setting this task force up now. Floridians need to remind him who Florida's higher education system really belongs to. In whatever way, make your voices heard.

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