A behind-the-scenes effort to divide an engineering program shared by Florida State University and Florida A&M University is igniting a lingering debate about racial inequality and how state resources are allocated in higher education.
State Sen. Joe Negron says the plan will allow the universities' "good" joint College of Engineering to morph into "great" individual programs. FAMU would keep the existing building on a remote part of FSU's campus and current state funding; FSU would get $13 million to begin the multi-year process of creating a new program in a new building.
"The important thing for FAMU is there is no reduction whatsoever for the College of Engineering at FAMU, they will continue to be funded at the current level," Negron, R-Stuart, said.
According to the Board of Governors, FAMU had 369 engineering students in undergraduate and graduate programs in 2013 and FSU had 2,142.
FAMU opposes the measure and so does Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, who believes the historically black university and its supporters are being forced to fight the same battles they lost nearly 50 years ago.