Local lawmakers Rally against New College proposal

Todays News

BY JACOB OGLES SRQ DAILY MONDAY BUSINESS EDITION MONDAY FEB 17, 2020

Lawmakers from Sarasota will spend much of this week pushing back on a plan to merge New College of Florida into Florida State University. But there are increasing signs leadership for the Legislature wants to pursue the controversial plan.

“This certainly shouldn’t be finding any traction,” said state Rep. Margaret Good, D-Sarasota. “New College is a top producer of Fulbright scholars and it’s one of the top liberal arts schools in the United States.”

State Sen. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota agrees. “New College has an important role to play in our community and overall in the university system we have in Florida,” he said. “I’m going to do all I can.”

Both Good and Gruters plan to participate in a press conference this week with leadership for the college.

But state Rep. Randy Fine, R-Palm Bay and the sponsor for legislation stripping New College of its independence, said it costs the state roughly 10 times as much to produce a from New College than at one of the state’s larger public universities. That’s largely because of extra administrative costs for the small school.

But he also noted New College has been given extra funding to grow its enrollment to 1,200 students, but instead has seen the numbers decline. That’s not the fault of school leadership, he said, as much as students themselves favoring major universities.

“The students you want to go to the honors college of Florida are choosing to go to the University of Florida or Florida State University,” he said. “The market is speaking.”

Meanwhile, House Speaker Josè Oliva, R-Miami, said this week he has not heard an argument merging New College into FSU, or a connected plan to merge Florida Polytechnic University into UF, was a bad idea. And Senate President Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, said the Senate is open to hearing the proposal.

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