United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
31 May 2012
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CHAPTER MEETINGS THIS SUMMER
This summer, the UFF USF Chapter will meet on alternate Fridays at 12 noon: we will meet tomorrow June 1 in the Marshall Student Center (MSC) in room 3700 next to the Top of the Palms; the Chapter will cover the buffet (but come to MSC 3700 first). On June 15, June 29, and July 27, we will meet at CDB Italian Restaurant at 5104 E. Fowler Ave. in Tampa, just west of the USF Tampa campus; pizza and beer will be provided by the Chapter. We will meet in MSC on July 13, details TBA. All USF faculty and professionals – UFF members and non-members alike – are welcome. Come and check us out.
JOIN UFF TODAY!
Download, fill in, and mail the membership form. Benefits of membership include the right to run and vote in UFF chapter and statewide elections; representation in grievances (UFF cannot represent a non-member in a grievance or future litigation); special deals in insurance, travel, legal advice, and other packages provided by our affiliates; free insurance coverage for job-related liability; and the knowledge you are supporting education in Florida. AND YOU CAN JOIN NOW AND PAY NO DUES UNTIL AUGUST UNDER THE FEA'S THREE FOR FREE PROGRAM. IN ADDITION, JOIN NOW AND AFTER A TERM AS A DUES PAYING MEMBER, YOU WILL RECEIVE A $ 100 REBATE. Come and join the movement.
CONTRIBUTE TO UFF PAC!
UFF needs your help to fight for you in Tallahassee. We need to help reasonable candidates get elected this fall, and we need to build relationships with legislators we will be dealing with next spring. Thanks to the U. S. Supreme Court, that means campaign contributions. BUT DUES MONEY DOES NOT GO TOWARDS CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS, so the UFF Political Action Committee needs donations! Download, fill in, and mail the UFF PAC paycheck deduction form to contribute a few dollars out of each paycheck towards the UFF PAC fund. We need all the pull in the legislature that we can get.
IN THIS ISSUE
WHAT TO DO ABOUT THE UNIVERSITIES?
They cost oodles of money and are full of uppity professors. Facing redistricting and the election, the legislature didn't do much more than cut our budget and indulge a little megalomania in Lakeland. What the governor is organizing now may be much more sweeping.
Decisions will be made during the life of the Task Force, and the best time to influence those decisions is now. Of course, the single event that will influence those decisions most will be the election itself...
- Where the Board Stands. The Board of Governors has a long-range plan and a conventional if trendy view of the universities' place in Florida. For more on this, see below.
- But Where will the Governor Stand? Governor Scott has created a Task Force whose report is scheduled to come out just after the election. For more on this, see below.
WHERE THE BOARD STANDS
Despite the theoretical independence of the Board of Governors of the Florida State University System, every member of the Board knows that its independence was won against gubernatorial and legislative opposition. Every member knows about subsequent gubernatorial and legislative encroachments. Every member knows who appoints Board members. So the Board is cautious.
But the challenges and opportunities of this century will transform our society – with changes ranging from science to ethics – so any state with any ambition will invest in education. In Tallahassee, business interests have the loudest megaphones, and many Floridian business groups are ambitious, or at least they think they are. Packed with such business people, the Board has made its case.
Last Fall, the Board approved a 2012 – 2025 Strategic Plan. The Executive Summary enumerates six goals for 2025:
The Strategic Plan itself is composed in broad terms. It repeatedly stresses STEM education but does not distinguish between building a population of technicians and building an environment receptive to innovation; perhaps the Board preferred to avoid such complexities. The Plan papers over several balancing acts. For example, the percentage of incoming freshmen should increasingly come from the top of their high school class while universities are to become more accessible. Aspirations of individual institutions should be balanced against the mission of the System. The Plan concludes with a wish list of numbers – e.g., the amount of R & D funding from external sources will rise from 59 % to 67 % while the number of minorities awarded baccalaureate degrees will rise from 16,207 to 31,500 – with no indication how this will be accomplished save by getting more funding from the legislature.
- To increase the number of baccalaureate degrees awarded per year from 53,000 to 90,000,
- To get all Florida universities listed on the Carnegie Community Engagement Elective Classification,
- To track more effectively what students do (especially in business) after graduation,
- To raise the percentage of freshman coming from the top tenth of their high school class from the current 28 % up to 50 %,
- To increase faculty membership in the National Academies from the current 38 up to 75, and
- To increase the number of (R & D) licenses and patents produced annually from the current 150 up to 250.
It might be unfair to describe this campaign as over-cautious, but there is almost nothing about the sort of economic development that, say, South Korea or Finland are angling for, much less how Florida might get into the game. Timidly incrementalist, it presents a case that a hoary Floridian devoted to tourism and agribusiness would not quarrel with.
- That may be a vain hope. In January, the Board presented a plaintive Information Brief on Historical Trends in State University System Base Operating Funds, which observed that state funding for universities had returned to 2002 -2003 levels, with the 24 % enrollment increase paid for by increasing tuition. State funding topped off in 2007 – 2008 at over $ 2.1 billion, and then fell to $ 1.6 billion as of 2011 – 2012.
- In February, the Board presented the governor with a report on a study of the economic impact of the System on Florida. The study estimates that the System had a $ 53 billion "value added" impact on Florida, or 7 % of Florida's gross domestic product. The report measured only "direct impacts", not anything like 'a bunch of USF graduates formed a company that made a better mousetrap', although that is the sort of impact that California, Massachusetts and North Carolina worked for.
BUT WHERE WILL THE GOVERNOR STAND?
Governor Scott has embraced a package of Texan Solutions (see The Texan Solutions in the 22 September 2011 Biweekly), which is essentially an optimistic proposal for providing minimal technical training to mid-level and lower-level employees -- of corporations that didn't innovate much or take risks or otherwise push beyond narrow comfort zones. Such a model may seem a strange thing to embrace, but it's cheap.
Florida, where you dream of getting more than you paid for.
The United Faculty of Florida is concerned that Scott might attempt to implement the Texan Solutions in Florida, and reduce the System to an array of weak vocational schools. Something may be coming. On May 4, Scott created a Blue Ribbon Task Force on State Higher Education Reform, complete with a Facebook page. The Task Force is to assess the universities with respect to the System's constitutional charge and the 2012 – 2025 Strategic Plan, and recommend incentive plans and governance improvements that would increase efficiency as well as changes in statutes and regulations to improve accountability and transparency. The seven members are:
The Task Force is to present its report by November 15 – after the election. But since the Task Force will be collecting information, we should get more news before then.
- Task Force chairman Dale Brill, who directs the Florida Chamber of Commerce research and policy division, told reporters that the Task Force may recommend that institutions specialize more. Jeffrey Shuman is the HR director of Harris, an electronics company. Board member Joseph Caruncho is CEO of Preferred Care Partners, which offers Medicare Advantage and other supplemental insurance programs.
- Marlene O'Toole, and Bill Proctor are Republican legislators who oversee public and private education in Florida; Proctor is also Chancellor of Flagler College.
- UNF President John Delaney told reporters that Scott is focused on cost cutting, and that the appointment of the Task Force was a positive development.
- Frank Fuller, a mover and shaker in Florida vocational education.
Next Chapter Meeting tomorrow Friday, at 12 noon, the Marshall Student Center (MSC) in room 3700 next to Top of the Palms; the Chapter will cover the buffet (but come to MSC 3700 first).
The buffet will be provided by the union, and all UFF members are invited to attend. Non-members are also invited to come and check us out. Come and join the movement.
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