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SRQ DAILY Feb 29, 2020

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition

"I hope lawmakers will ultimately recognize the numerous benefits of retaining and sustaining Florida Poly as a stand-alone institution."

- Dr. Randy Avent, Florida Polytechnic College

---Volunteer Tim Beam helps inflate "Big Oh!", an aircraft owned by Charles Page and Kristie Darling, at the Up Up and Away Florida Hot Air Balloon Festival at Sun n' Fun Expo Campus in Lakeland, Florida taking place for the first time this weekend. Photo: Wes Roberts
[Higher Education]  Merger Will Cost New College What Makes It Special
Donal O'Shea, doshea@ncf.edu

Now in its 60th year, New College is unique within Florida’s state university system. It offers a challenging educational experience that is an ideal fit for exceptional students reaching toward a future as innovative leaders. For that and many other reasons, a proposal under consideration by the Florida Legislature to merge New College into the University of Florida is a bad idea.

New College’s individualized curriculum simply does not fit within the culture of UF or any other large university, as outstanding as those institutions may be. Folding our school into another would compromise its special value and leave Florida, and some of the state’s most creative young thinkers, with nothing like it.

The idea of placing New College under a larger university has already been tried, without success. The school previously was a part of the University of South Florida, but our state leaders recognized this arrangement impeded our mission as the state’s designated Honors College.

Though our numbers are small, our impact is great. The Legislature established New College as a stand-alone institution in 2001, and that wisdom was rewarded almost immediately. The year after it became independent, New College was recognized as the #1 public liberal arts school in the country – and it has not stopped excelling since then. Our successes can be seen everywhere, from the number of Fulbright Fellowships (74 in the last 15 years, more per capita than any school in Florida) to high rankings from such renowned authorities as U.S. News & World Report, Kiplinger’s, Forbes and the Princeton Review.

Most of our students would not have applied to New College if it was a branch campus of another larger university. They would have applied to a liberal arts college in another state and their extraordinary talents would have been lost to Florida, now and after graduation.

The plan before the Legislature is proposed to save tax dollars, but the truth is that it carries only

minimal prospects for savings. New College represents just 0.72% of the entire State University System budget, and the legislation will cause more disruption than any potential (but unproven) savings might justify – while threatening the very things that make our school so appealing to applicants.

New College is doing well in its mission on behalf of the State of Florida, and applications are up 30% over this time last year. But news about this pending takeover is causing students and parents to rethink their plans. We want them at New College so they can then go on to do great things to make our state and our world a better place.

New College has achieved many marks of greatness since becoming an independent public college. Lumping it under UF will cause it to lose its special identity and its rankings, and I believe this is something the State of Florida cannot afford.

Dr. Donal O’Shea is president of New College of Florida. 

[Higher Education]  SCF Savings Fuel Projects
Carol Probstfeld, presidentsoffice@scf.edu

At State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota, we make every effort to be a financial role model for our students. We demonstrate the value of saving and investing hard-earned money in ways that benefit our future. This spring, that practice is allowing us to take on three major construction and renovation projects to upgrade our oldest campus — SCF Bradenton.

We are remodeling and adding to the Science Building, one of the oldest and busiest buildings on campus, building the Studio for the Performing Arts, which will connect to the Neel Performing Arts Center, and remodeling our former library to become the Center for Advanced Technology and Innovation.

These projects have two things in common. Each provides greater access for our students to high impact education in science and the arts, and each would not be possible without our ability to have strong financial reserves available for strategic investment.

The College’s income is from state budget allocations and tuition. We work hard to find efficiencies in our annual budget and set money aside in our reserve funds for future needs and emergencies. We save to invest in our future, just as we recommend to our students.

Our reserves are dedicated to our long-term goals for campus and program improvements, construction projects and the inevitable disaster recovery. When we discuss financial literacy with our students, we recommend saving for three to six months of expenses. By contrast, the state mandates that the College maintain only five percent of our annual budget in reserves. That is just three weeks of operating costs for SCF. This policy makes our institution financially vulnerable.

We are hopeful that the legislature acts this spring to allow us to expand our ability to hold money in reserve. The investment we are making in our oldest campus this year demonstrates our ability to responsibly and impactfully use the money we have saved. Our commitment to saving allows us to provide the final funding needed to proactively begin work on our projects at a time when construction costs are rapidly increasing.

We committed $1.5 million in reserve funds to the Science Building remodel and addition to demonstrate our commitment for the project to the state legislature. After receiving almost all the required funding from the state, our reserves are providing the final capital required to begin construction. The Studio for the Performing Arts is possible thanks to our region’s philanthropic community, but to act in a cost-effective and time-sensitive manner, our reserves will allow us to begin construction while we continue to fundraise to the total project cost. Being forced to wait would only drive up the cost of these projects.

Without reserves to fund the remodel of our old library we could not have applied for and received a $3.6 million Florida Department of Economic Opportunity grant to create the Center for Advanced Technology and Innovation, which will house a coding academy, technology incubator and accelerator, video studio and university partnership center. This is a tremendous asset for our students and community that would not have been possible without our ability to fund the building’s remodel.

Strategic saving is something we should all aspire to and the example we strive to set for our students and graduates. Investing our savings back into our institution will pay off for generations of SCF students.

Dr. Carol F. Probstfeld is president of State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota 

[The Detail]  Dirty Politics, Dirty Water
Cathy Antunes, cathycantunes@gmail.com

A new awareness of the importance of County government is growing.

In recent years millions of gallons of wastewater have “spilled” into Sarasota waters, harming the environment. Just this week, nearly 700,000 gallons of reclaimed water and 4,500 gallons of raw sewage spilled into two local stormwater retention ponds. While wastewater infrastructure was languishing, Sarasota County Commissioners backed by wealthy development interests kept approving projects for their benefactors. The resulting harm is real.

If you have any doubt, ask business owners and workers who suffered during the 2018 red time summer. Consider too how all this sprawl development has impacted traffic, and it’s clear we need a County government that takes good care of the interests of constituents, not special interests.
By now, many Sarasota County voters are aware that we have had a Republican County Commission for 50 years. I attribute this phenomenon to voters choosing to vote along party lines in County Commission races, because when I ask Sarasota residents if they can name their five County Commissioners, most cannot name one, let alone five. When people walk into a voting booth not knowing the candidates, they look to other means to make their decision. Party affiliation is an obvious distinguishing feature when name recognition isn’t in play. Registered Republicans outnumber Democrats, and independents tend to split down the middle. Advantage: GOP.

But that’s not the whole story. A look at Sarasota County Commission elections shows just how lopsided our choices have been.

There have been 20 Sarasota County Commission races since 2004. Those races have included 46 candidates: 33 Republicans, 8 Democrats, and 5 NPAs. Republicans have run unopposed in the general election in 11 of the 20 races. And of those 20 County Commission elections, Democrats ran in only seven of them You’ve got to be in it to win it.

For developers backing County Commission candidates, it’s not really about electing Republicans. It’s about electing their anointed candidates. Witness what happens to grassroots Republican candidates. In 2014, former local GOP chair Bob Waechter was caught on video purchasing a debit card in the name of a Republican candidate considered unfriendly to the developer power structure. Waechter then took that card and made contributions to Democrats in her name. That’s felony identity theft, committed to create attack fodder against an internal Republican rival.

Another grassroots 2016 Republican County Commission candidate was the subject of an attack website funded by a PAC that received $15,000 from developer Pat Neal..

Of course, grassroots Democrat County Commission candidates who are considered a threat get attacked too. Who can forget the 2008 TV commercial run against Jono Miller, showing a man dressed in a ballerina tutu dancing around? You can’t make this stuff up.

Dirty politics lead to dirty water. In 2020, single member districts for County Commission races will reduce the cost of running, and increase the efficacy of grassroots campaigns. Are you interested in making a difference? Do you care about clean water? We need you on the County Commission.

Cathy Antunes is host of The Detail. 

[On Government]  Florida Poly Doing Job of Shaping STEM talent
Randy Avent

The Florida Legislature eight years ago scanned the horizon and wisely recognized that our state’s economic future demanded a greater emphasis on STEM skills. Lawmakers created Florida Polytechnic University as a small, independent institution dedicated to nothing but science, technology, engineering and mathematics. After the ramp-up period and the upfront costs associated with such a bold, high-quality startup venture, Florida Poly has exceeded all accreditation benchmarks and performance timelines and is delivering outstanding results. 

So it is truly baffling why the Legislature would propose merging Florida Poly with the University of Florida, destroying our independence. This proposal is based on questionable cost savings using statistics that portray Florida Poly as unduly costly. The truth is that our university is providing an exceptional education to emerging innovators at an entirely reasonable cost and catapulting our graduates to a median first year salary of $54,800 a year – the highest in the State University System.  

I hope lawmakers will ultimately recognize the numerous benefits of retaining and sustaining Florida Poly as a stand-alone institution, one that offers a unique educational opportunity to young men and women who are already filling a critical talent need in our emerging knowledge economy. 

The Florida Chamber says Florida suffers from a shortage of 55,000 unfilled STEM jobs, while the Florida Council of 100 worries our state has lower talent availability due to an underdeveloped pipeline of workers with STEM skills. These prominent business organizations understand Florida needs precisely the kind of exceptional graduates Florida Poly is producing.

Developing highly skilled, specialized graduates is essential, but it is not easy or inexpensive. Still, in the last complete fiscal year, the entire cost of operating Florida Poly accounted for just 0.87% of total expenditures for the State University System. The proposed legislation is aimed at saving a questionable fraction of that 0.87% and risks damaging an institution that is already having an annual economic impact of over $290 million.  

Critics argue Florida Poly is spending too much on administration. But there is no uniform method for how administrative costs are tracked, and some universities count these costs within each college as “instructional” expenditures. Florida Poly does not have such colleges, so none of our administrative costs are counted as “instructional” in this way – a statistic some are now using to make it appear that our administrative costs are relatively higher.  

The proposal also does not recognize that research-intensive engineering programs are considerably more expensive per degree than programs in the liberal arts, social sciences and business, which account for most of the degrees at comprehensive universities like UF.

Our students chose Florida Poly because they were attracted by small classes taught by full-time, expert faculty, its world-class laboratories and technology, and the fact that it stands by itself in a diverse State University System. They did not apply to Florida Poly to attend a branch campus of a massive university more than two hours away. 

Florida Poly is doing exactly the job it was asked to do by the Legislature in 2012. It would be unfortunate, and counterproductive, to undermine its status by making it just another branch of a larger university. And doing so without transparent, careful deliberation of facts and data is not consistent with the values we have found that otherwise exist in the Florida Legislature.    

Dr. Randy Avent is president of Florida Polytechnic University. 

[Young Entrepreneurs ]  Winds of Change
John Witte

Six young entreprenuers shaking up business in Sarasota. 

Click here to read the full story in our February 2020 Business Edition!

[SCOOP]  All Faiths Food Bank Kicks Off Annual Campaign Against Summer Hunger with Walk to End Summer Hunger

The Food Bank will kick-off the annual Campaign Against Summer Hunger with a walk across the Ringling Bridge. The Walk to End Summer Hunger will be held on March 29 at 8 am at JD Hamel Park. It will launch a six-week dollar for dollar match challenge of $1.4 million from April 1 through May 15 to fund summer food programs to feed 40,000 students and their younger siblings who are at risk of going hungry over the summer. The Campaign Against Summer Hunger has become the community’s strongest line of defense against child hunger. Last year, 228 partners and programs worked together to provide 37,668 children with 3.3 million meals. The walk is open to the public and community members of all ages. A $10 registration fee includes a t-shirt and breakfast. Registration is open until March 25th. 

All Faiths Food Bank

[SCOOP]  Discover the History of Transportation in the Sunshine State

Did you know that people have been plying Florida's waterways in boats for at least 7,000 years? That "Old Cabbage Head" — the steam engine now housed at the Manatee Village Historical Park — was driven by Florida's first African American conductor? Or that in the 1950s, Bradenton was home to the world's largest trailer park and its resident Tin Can Tourists? Discover all of this and more as you explore the history of transportation in the Sunshine State using The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature newest Pathways tour "Reins, Trains, and Tin Can Tourists." Pathways is a free smartphone and tablet-based app that helps you learn more about the objects in Bishop’s unique exhibitions and the sometimes surprising stories behind them.  

The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature

[SCOOP]  Scholarships Available To Strengthen Nursing Workforce On The Suncoast

The Suncoast Nursing Action Coalition (SNAC) is offering up to $150,000 in scholarships to encourage more nurses and prospective nursing students to earn their bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) and ensure safe, high quality nursing care in the Sarasota, Charlotte, Manatee and Desoto counties region. The deadline to apply for the scholarships is March 1. To be eligible, applicants must live or work at a medical facility within the SNAC region or be a graduate of a high school from one of those counties. Applicants also must:

  • Have submitted an application for acceptance to an accredited nursing bachelor’s program. 

  • Plan to be a full or part-time student.

  • Demonstrate financial need.

  • Obtain at least one recommendation from an employer or faculty/instructor.


Community Foundation of Sarasota County

[KUDOS]  Florida Studio Theatre Receives Grant

Florida Studio Theatre (FST) proudly announces that it has been approved for a $15,000 Art Works grant to support The Suffragist Project: Celebrating 100 Years of the Woman’s Right to Vote. In honor of this historic milestone, The Suffragist Project has brought together over 60 community partners, each creating their own artistic, cultural, and educational programming. As part of FST’s contribution to The Project, the theatre has launched Historically Speaking, an educational touring program; commissioned four playwrights to develop new plays inspired by the movement for women’s suffrage; and created an original devised play. The grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) will support these artistic initiatives, as well as FST’s Dangerous Ladies Festival, a weekend-long culminating celebration in August 2020 of the new theatrical work created over the course of The Project.  

Florida Studio Theatre

[KUDOS]  Did you know?

Did you know that Florida Winefest is actually comprised of several events like: Pique Nique Sur La Baie Luncheon and Fashion Show, Banquet on the Block, Grand Tasting Brunch and Charity Auction, Silent Disco Party, Culinary Market Mash UP, and the Business Trade Tasting. It is 5 days of great food, exquisite wines, fun and spirited giving all for local children’s charities.  For more info and tickets visit floridawinefest.org.


Florida Winefest

[SOON]  BUSINESS: 43rd Annual Simply Sarasota Tour of Homes , February 28 – February 29, 10 AM - 4 PM

The Junior League of Sarasota’s 43rd annual “Simply Sarasota” Tour of Homes presented by Charlotte’s Grace Fine Linens & Luxe Home Accents will be held on February 28 and February 29. Exquisite residential properties can be toured in the Siesta Key, Oyster Bay and surrounding mainland areas. Homes range in style from modern architecture to traditional, and from historic to new construction. Attendees can expect interactive demonstrations from local Sarasota restaurants, crafts by local artisans, and live entertainment from musicians and acrobats.

[SOON]  GALA: BELIEVE: A Gala Celebrating 30 Years , February 29, 6pm-10pm

Are you going to BELIEVE? Thirty years ago, Dr. Kay Glasser believed it was possible to build a campus that would help to improve the quality of life for all people in our region. This Leap Day, The Glasser/Schoenbaum Human Services Center celebrate those who believed in her vision to get us here, and those who believe in our future.

Hyatt Regency Sarasota, 1000 Boulevard of the Arts, Sarasota, FL 34236

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Youth Fashion Bootcamp Saturdays at Art Center Sarasota , February 29, 9:30-3:30pm

Students will complete a basic sewing project and work on a fashion design of their own creation aided by our skilled teachers. Students will explore, design and create with the materials they bring and those that we have on hand. Students will learn about fashion design, construction, creative thinking and more. Ages 9-17 years old. Participants will need to bring an idea for an unconventional material outfit, some requested materials and a basic sewing kit. Fashion Bootcamp is taugher by Barbara Gerdeman or Margaret Hillman. Students must be registered by Thursday February 27, 2020. Parents will be notified on Friday February 28 if bootcamp has been canceled.

Art Center Sarsota, 707 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota

[SOON]  SCIENCE AND NATURE: The Science and Art of South Florida , February 29, 10:30 am

Abstract Expressionist Syd Solomon lived and worked in Sarasota, Florida. From his home on Siesta Key, Solomon painted Florida’s coastal ecosystem and was profoundly inspired by the local landscape. Solomon was also an advocate for environmental conservation, a legacy continued by The Ringling today. During this workshop, participants will learn from Rose Garden Horticulturist Kai Sacco as he leads a walking tour of the Bayfront Gardens exploring topics such as coastal ecosystems, red tide, pollinators and the importance of native plants. Attendees will also learn how to create a Florida Friendly landscape using native plants.

The program will begin in the Chao Lecture Hall followed by a walking tour tailored to the topic. Please wear comfortable clothes and walking shoes and allow additional time to make your way from the Visitors Pavilion to the Lecture Hall.

The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art, 5401 Bay Shore Rd, Sarasota

[SOON]  GALA: Goodwill Manasota's 15th Anniversary Mardi Gras Gala 2020 , February 29, 6:30pm

Goodwill Manasota has announced their signature event, Mardi Gras Gala 2020, where the fabulous Phil Mancini will transform Michael's On East once again into Bourbon Street a' la Michael's serving authentic New Orleans food, in a lively, street party atmosphere! There will be amazing cajun food, awesome auction items, fantastic music, inspiring dancing, marvelous performers and more. Fun and festive marti gras attire is encouraged. Tickets are $175 per person, and can be purchased HERE. For sponsorship opportunities click HERE

Michaels On East, 1212 S. East Ave Sarasota

SRQ Media Group

SRQ DAILY is produced by SRQ | The Magazine. Note: The views and opinions expressed in the Saturday Perspectives Edition and in the Letters department of SRQ DAILY are those of the author(s) and do not imply endorsement by SRQ Media. Senior Editor Jacob Ogles edits the Saturday Perspective Edition, Letters and Guest Contributor columns.In the CocoTele department, SRQ DAILY is providing excerpts from news releases as a public service. Reference to any specific product or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by SRQ DAILY. The views expressed by individuals are their own and their appearance in this section does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. For rates on SRQ DAILY banner advertising and sponsored content opportunities, please contact Ashley Ryan Cannon at 941-365-7702 x211 or via email

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