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USF completes separation from Poly, now due $10 million

"We're done!" University of South Florida president Judy Genshaft said excitedly just minutes after the state Board of Governors certified the school had transitioned all necessary assest to the new Florida Polytechnic University.

The law that created the state’s 12th university earlier this year required USF to give the new university all the resources it had on their Lakeland campus, called USF Poly. In return, once the transition was completed USF would get $10 million to allow existing students to finish their degrees in Lakeland with USF Poly faculty. The school can now petition the state for that money.

Transitioning assets, such as deeds to land where the new Florida Polytechnic campus will be located, called for complicated negotions in the past several months, Genshaft said. Now, the Polytechnic Board of Trustees is holding all the cards as it continues the arduous process of starting a university from scratch.

"They have accepted everything," Genshaft said. "Everything's fine. Everything's good."

Members of the Board of Governors and presidents from the state's other universities applauded Genshaft at the end of the transition report. Although the board mainly stayed neutral during debate on the new university, members continue to raise concerns about the costs and other issues associated with starting a university.

During debate about tying university funding to performance goals, Florida Atlantic University President Mary Jane Saunders said she was playing devil's advocate by asking the board: What will you do about Polytechnic, a university that has not students?

Wednesday, Board members also quizzed Gov. Rick Scott about whether the state was making a good investment by dedicating so much time and many resources to starting a new university during a time of economic uncertainty.

"The Impression this Board has, and maybe the new Board of Trustees, is it's full steam regardless of the cost," said Board of Governors member John Temple. "And all I'm asking is that you pay attention as this process moves forward to what is this really costing us, and what is this taking away from other ways that we get more STEM degrees from the universities that we have."

Scott pointed out that Florida Polytechnic wasn't a priority of his, but he does believe that it has an opportunity to produce results if done well. He also said he will be measuring to ensure a return on the state's investment.

“I agree," the governor said. "We have to watch how we spend all the money, including Polytech.”