An Open Letter to the Florida State Senate Budget Committee
I write to you as a USF Tampa graduate student and a USF Polytechnic alumna. Please consider the following in your thoughts as you prepare to vote Wednesday on Senator Alexander's proposal to eliminate USF Polytechnic from the state university system.
1. When I decided to return to school three years ago, the reason I selected USF Polytechnic was because the campus was part of the University of South Florida system. It was important to me to attend a school where classes are taught by Ph.D.s. Poly delivered on this front and more. I attended small classes, where these professors insisted that students participate in topical discussion. The five semesters as a Poly student prepared me well for my next academic journey, seeking a master's degree in Instructional Technology at USF's Tampa campus.
If the program I currently attend were available at the Polytechnic campus, I would have remained at the campus. Even so, the experience at USF Poly prepared me well, as the smaller classes and active discussions in my undergraduate classes mirror what I experience now as a graduate student. I cannot speak to this characteristic at the St. Pete and Sarasota campuses, but those of us who have had the pleasure of attending USF Poly fully appreciate the 'small campus, with big resources' experience we now have as part of the USF system.
2. Had Senator Alexander polled the students, faculty, and staff of USF Poly prior to his push towards Florida Polytechnic and this latest move to immediately separate the school against the Board of Governor's wishes, he would have found that an overwhelming majority of each contingent on the Lakeland campus vehemently opposed separating from USF. As it is now, we will adhere to the BoG's mandate, but we've lost some great faculty and administrators due to this situation. We have students who are transferring out en masse and others who won't even submit applications, even though this school was their first choice prior to August, 2011.
3. This is a penny wise and pound foolish decision placed before you. Will students honestly apply to a Florida Polytechnic, when there's a USF campus in town? Will the school attract quality faculty, knowing that Senator Alexander discarded the current populace like yesterday's garbage?
What will become of the non-tenured faculty and staff who do not have job security with USF? What will happen to the students who fall between the cracks between the USF Tampa GPA standards and the USF Poly criteria? Do you honestly think quality people will want to work for this new Florida Polytechnic, after seeing what has happened to those of us who are now on this campus? Do you think students will seek out this school, seeing that they can be treated like refuse by the state senators?
4. Has Senator Alexander provided proof of how this will save the state money? A new University will require a full complement of staff before the first student even walks through the door to attend a class. Students you can't be guaranteed will apply to an untested school. A school that will have to gain SACS accreditation before it can admit students. Senator Alexander can flex muscle and bully the BoG and those on his committees in Tallahassee, but he cannot force SACS to do what he wants.
Before you consider a separate school, please take the time to research what it really means to make a separate school a reality. Talk to the administrators at any of the other schools in the State University system and ask them about the process of hiring ONE faculty member, let alone an entire school's worth. Ask them how they attract quality students, even with the reputations they took years to cultivate.
What you will find is that opening a brand new school from the ground up will require lower hiring standards and lower admissions standards. Is that what Florida needs?
I beg of you, please do not consider this legislation before you as a signed and done document. There are many ramifications of this decision, and it would be best for you and the members of the committee to explore these before agreeing to what Senator Alexander has put before you.
A USF Poly Alum