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Florida Poly, New College Face Dissolution As Merger Plan Gets House Budget Panel Approval

Rep. Randy Fine’s plan to take the number of public universities from 12, to 10 cleared a key House committee Tuesday night over the objections of Florida Polytechnic University and New College supporters as well as most Democrats. 

The plan merges both Florida Polytechnic University and New College of Florida  into the University of Florida. An earlier version of the bill called for Florida State to take New College. Fine is basing his move on the schools’ cost-per-degree which are far higher than at other public universities. But Florida Polytechnic University president Randy Avent says those numbers don’t reflect the truth.

“The cost-per-degree…neglects the fact that for Florida Poly, it represents our first graduating class which was by far the lowest and smallest class we had," Avent said, adding the numbers also include finishing the construction of the school's first buildings. 

Fine says his data comes from the state university system governing board and they have not said it’s inaccurate. Tuesday's meeting of the House Appropriations drew several New College and Florida Poly students and alumni. Among them was Kim McShane, a 1992 graduate of New College who said Fine's plan was an example of, "evaluating the cost of everything and knowing the value of nothing."

The only Republican to vote against the bill is St. Cloud Representative Mike LaRosa. The measure now goes before the full house for a vote. There is no Senate companion.  Senate President Bill Galvano has said the idea of merging New College into another school is one worth considering.

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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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