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Alexander pushes to fast-track USF Polytech split

The University of South Florida’s polytechnic campus could be on a fast-track to becoming the state’s 12th public university under a senate proposal. Lynn Hatter reports the proposal slipped into the Senate’s appropriations budget would grant the college almost immediate independence from its parent university.

The USF Polytechnic school is a top priority of Republican State Senator JD Alexander, who backed its independence bid before the state Board of Governors in November. That’s when the Board approved a plan toward making the school fully independent of its parent university USF—which opposed the move. That opposition led to a public spat between Alexander and university leadership. Alexander says he’s lost confidence in the university and defends the bill.

 “It does create an independent organization but until it meets all the criteria laid out in the Board of Governors motion, it won’t become an independent university of the state. There’s a difference, an important difference.”

Critics say the proposal flies in the face of what the Board of Governors was set up to do. And if it clears the Senate, it could face problems in the House. Speaker-designate Will Weatherford has said if there’s going to be a 12th public university, it should be online only.


*Correction: In an interview with WFLA Radio in Tallahassee  on February 7 Representative Will Weatherford, R- Wesley Chapel, said if Florida is going to open a 13th state university, it should be online only. In the same interview he also said the University of South Florida Poytechnic school would most likely be the 12th state university. Weatherford is in line to be the next House speaker. His position on an online university is NOT related to his position on the Polytech.


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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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