USF involvement with new Poly to continue past July
Published: Thursday, May 24, 2012
Updated: Thursday, May 24, 2012 12:05
USF’s involvement with Florida’s newest public university, Florida Polytechnic University, will stretch beyond the looming July 1 date when USF will be required to transfer all remaining assets from its now defunct Lakeland campus.
A Board of Governors (BOG) Select Committee on Florida Polytechnic University decided Wednesday to extend USF’s role in the oversight of building construction and the “retention of administrative responsibilities” during the transition of Florida Polytechnic to become Florida’s 12th public university.
The committee, which will appoint a board of trustees for the new university, decided that USF will remain involved for three months past the date that the BOG and Florida Gov. Rick Scott select a board of trustees for Florida Polytechnic.
“We now are taking a different approach to the same end, but it is not just as simple as shifting to another gear,” BOG Chancellor Frank Brogan said at the meeting.
Brogan said the decision was made to allow reasonable time for the new Florida Polytechnic University Board of Trustees to assume responsibility for providing those services. Responsibilities include construction at the Interstate 4 campus and payments of monthly leases and administrative support services, including payroll and accounting services to the campus’s Florida Industrial and Phosphate Research Institute.
Any change orders, scheduling changes, contracts, contract renewals or extensions will be submitted to Brogan for approval.
The decision is a departure from the language found in Senate Bill 1994, which allowed for the creation of the university and stated that its board of trustees would assume responsibility July 1.
As part of the decision, USF will be reimbursed by Florida Polytechnic at a future date for unspecified costs that could be associated with extended involvement Brogan said the three-month time period could be extended pending further discussion, if the BOG deems it necessary.
Committee Chairman Mori Hosseini said USF isn’t involved “out of the goodness of their Bulls heart, nor should (they) be.”
“I think it’s important to realize that these things we’re discussing all have price tags associated with them,” he said. “So I think it is everyone’s understanding that those will be borne by the Florida Polytech budget.”
Problems related to the selection of a new board of trustees contributed to the extension. Hosseini said the BOG has only received four applications for the Florida Polytechnic board. The deadline to the BOG, which is responsible for appointing five out of the 11 trustees, is May 31. Six trustees are appointed by Scott.
Hosseini said the BOG normally receives far more applicants, citing 40 applicants received during trustee searches at other campuses.
Brian Lamb, a USF Board of Trustees member, said he wants to make sure the BOG and USF are clear about USF’s role and collaboration efforts with the new university, including the indefinite sharing of services between Florida Polytechnic and USF while USF is in Lakeland during its teach-out program, which will ensure USF students can finish their USF degrees in Lakeland.
“We firmly believe that the role of USF is not to substitute the decision-making of the new board,” he said. “We don’t want to run contrary to what the new board will want in place. So it’s a difficult balance.”
The BOG also approved a motion that allows students enrolled at USF Lakeland to continue to pay the same student fees, which include activity and service fees and health fees, which will be deposited into a segregated account at USF. The funds must benefit students enrolled at USF by June 1, 2012.
Jan Ignash, chief academic officer for the Board of Governors, said there would be no impact on financial aid for the students and that most USF faculty will stay in Lakeland for at least one year, while others are integrated into other campuses within the USF System. She said USF will vacate space progressively as needed.
USF President Judy Genshaft said USF is working with Rep. Seth McKeel, R-Lakeland, to ensure faculty employment with USF for at least one year to aid in the student teach-out, though those students could eventually come to Tampa.
“If there are three, we’ll have them come to Tampa which is 40 minutes away,” Genshaft said.
Hosseini said he hopes for collaboration among the universities to improve efficiencies, but said the focus is on removing USF’s presence from the Polytechnic campus within five years.
“We have a library right there, there’s no reason we can’t share the library,” Genshaft said. “(But) the sentiment that has come to us is USF must vacate Polk County.”