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Weatherford gets advice from former higher ed chancellor

His business cards might still say Chancellor of the California State University, but make no mistake, Charles Reed is back in Tallahassee.

Reed, the bombastic former chancellor of the Florida University System from 1985 to 1997, met for about a half hour with Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford on Monday. He was invited to talk with Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, after a speech he gave last year to the Florida Council of 100.

“I just wanted to know what he thought,” said Weatherford.

Reed, known for rarely holding back his opinion, said he was happy to visit with Weatherford.

“He’s asking for advice on higher education,” said Reed. “He has excellent values. He wants to dramatically improve higher education, so that Florida schools are nationally and internationally recognized. I was pleased he reached out to me.”

After retiring as chancellor of California’s system, where he served from 1997 to earlier this year, Reed has returned to live in Tallahassee. He said Weatherford called him while he was still in California.

Reed said he applauds Weatherford’s efforts to dramatically develop online education. He shared his experiences doing the same in California, where Reed, before leaving, signed two major contracts with online companies to provide significantly more virtual courses.

He also seemed to take a swipe at Gov. Rick Scott’s plan to provide the University of Florida with $15 million, while not providing a similar pot of money for the 10 other schools.

“You can’t treat your kids differently,” Reed said. “You have to treat them the same.”

Like Weatherford, Reed said a tuition increase is necessary.

“The state has to do its part with general funds, but the people who benefit have to pay more too,” he said. “Tuition is very inexpensive in Florida.”

Much has changed in Florida since he left for California, including the birth of Florida’s 12th university, Lakeland’s, Florida Polytechnic University, the handiwork of former Sen. JD Alexander.

“Why did they build a polytechnic there?” Reed said. “Last time I drove through Lakeland, I didn’t see Silicon Valley.”