We are pleased to write and tell you about a proposed plan that offers to restructure Florida’s economic reliance on tourism, agriculture and growth. This plan, called “New Florida,” heralds the role that universities play as economic drivers of a knowledge-based economy. It calls on state leaders and the legislature to double their recurring investment in higher education funding over the period of several years.
“New Florida” was unveiled at the Board of Governors’ meeting in Tampa Jan. 28. Gov. Charlie Crist was in attendance to announce his support and inclusion of elements of the plan in his proposed 2010 budget. The plan is a coordinated effort garnering support from leaders across the state from the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the Council of 100, Chancellor Brogan, the Florida Board of Governors, the state university presidents and the university Boards of Trustees. These leaders realize the impact this plan can have on building a stable and robust knowledge-based economy for Florida.
The Goals of “New Florida” are:
- To build a “Knowledge and Innovation” economy to provide a stable foundation for Florida.
- To establish Florida as a magnet for top level students, researchers and businesses in need of an educated populace.
- Universities will maintain a strong accountability system to ensure focused investment and demonstrate return on that investment to taxpayers and their elected representatives.
- Universities would focus at least half of new revenue in specific Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) degree programs.
- The new funding could be used for operations and for capital construction as well as fund State Matching Grant Programs.
For UWF, “New Florida” would specifically mean new revenue to hire additional faculty, provide an increase in services to our students, support our staff, maintain smaller class sizes and encourage research. In fact, this plan has the potential to transform UWF and our region. We thank the Governor, the Chancellor and the Board of Governors as well as the many others who are working tirelessly to further this program. In the weeks ahead we will implement a phased plan of support and advocacy. We will begin with formal resolution(s), Web site postings, securing external support and coalition building. At this time, we would like the campus community to be aware of the plan, its benefits and to be an ambassador and advocate for its merits within your normal circles of influence.
For more detail explaining the program, view the document developed by the Florida Board of Governors at http://www.uwf.edu/president/documents/New_Florida.pdf. We encourage you to take a few moments to read it and be knowledgeable about this transforming idea.