Just as a surprise bill to immediately split the University of South Florida Polytechnic into the state's 12th university dropped in the Senate higher education appropriations committee, USF President Judy Genshaft sent a letter out to the USF community and alumni. The letter reiterated a stance Genshaft has taken for months, ever since the Florida Board of Governors voted in November to allow USF Poly to become independent after meeting several benchmarks. Genshaft assures the USF community that she is focused on meeting those benchmarks.
She makes no mention of Wednesday's sudden bill, which would take USF Poly away from Genshaft right away and let it become its own school before reaching the BOG conditions.
Feb. 8, 2012
To: The USF Community and Alumni
From: Judy Genshaft, USF System President
On November 9, the Florida Board of Governors established a path to independence for USF Polytechnic – a series of benchmarks based on achieving certain criteria.
As USF Polytechnic moves down this path, the USF System will work aggressively to meet these benchmarks. Progress toward the BOG benchmarks has begun and is publicly tracked on the USF System website, here: http://system.usf.edu/bog-polytechnic-criteria/
The first step is for USF Polytechnic to achieve separate accreditation from the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). The other benchmarks include implementation of new degree programs, development of necessary support services, and construction of facilities. Once the benchmarks are met, USF Polytechnic will be able to address the BOG to become an independent institution, and during this process the BOG has established a three-person oversight committee.
Our own USF Board of Trustees has repeatedly stated its intention to direct the growth and success of USF Polytechnic along the path envisioned by the Board of Governors. The USF Board of Trustees has established an oversight committee led by Trustee Brian Lamb, regional president of Fifth Third Bank. Trustee Lamb’s committee has already reported on the progress made by USF Polytechnic in creating an efficient and focused path to achieving the benchmarks.
In December, I appointed David Touchton as Interim Campus Executive Officer to effectively and efficiently begin the drive to meet the BOG mandate. Mr. Touchton is an experienced business leader who specializes in accounting for colleges and universities. He has immediately taken control of the budget and created planning groups to achieve the BOG criteria. At the same time, we are launching a national search for a permanent Regional Chancellor, who will lead USF Polytechnic’s success along this path in the years to come.
The vision we’ve pursued for USF Polytechnic has focused on applied science and mathematics. I believe it’s clear that Florida must grow its ability to compete globally in the emerging knowledge-based economy.
For many students, that success will lie in the STEM disciplines – science, technology, engineering and mathematics. USF Polytechnic is positioned to become a leader in those fields as it works with the businesses of central Florida. As Florida emerges from the recession, graduates in the STEM fields will become leaders of the state’s new economy.
For students of all majors, the path to success includes critical thinking and analysis, the ability to develop flexible solutions to any problem, and the foresight to move effectively to answers.
We believe the students of our state deserve that opportunity, and we are dedicated to its achievement.
Finally, I want to thank the faculty, staff and students of USF Polytechnic. You have been dedicated and patient through challenging times, and now that we’re working closely together I look forward to more conversations as USF Polytechnic grows toward its bright future.