Polytechnic funding request rests on little merit
Published: Monday, February 18, 2013
Updated: Monday, February 18, 2013 00:02
Florida Polytechnic University seems to be the gift that never stops taking.
Since the university was created last year after USF’s Polytechnic branch campus was peeled away from USF — along with about $88 million in accompanying funds and assets — more than $109 million has been set aside for the university that currently has no students enrolled or faculty hired.
Now, while the other 11 state universities, which are still smarting from the $300 million blow in cuts they were collectively dealt last year, will vie for additional funding from a state Legislature that has made it clear funding will not be doled out freely, Florida Polytechnic will ask for $25 million more.
To provide better services for their students? No, they have no students.
To better enable their faculty to conduct preeminent research? No, they have no faculty.
Instead, the $25 million will be used to complete its first state-of-the-art building.
Buildings, and capital infrastructure, are important, but in the absence of luxurious funding, the new university is a burden on both tax payers and the existing state university system.
Puzzling is the fact that while “return on investments” has been a higher education buzzword in recent state discussions, the state continues to find itself entangled in requests from an institution that has provided negative productivity for the state.
While indeed, the ultimate goal of a polytechnic university is one that fits the glove of the state’s ideals of promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs, the timing for creating one couldn’t be worse.
The state is strapped for cash, and the lack of foresight in creating the university is not one that can easily be rectified now that the state has committed to creating a 12th public university.
While the request to the Legislature does not guarantee any funds going in the direction of the new university, the request itself will take up legislative time in discussion and debate — time that could be much better spent discussing any number of issues the state faces.
As the legislative season embarks, unnecessary banter will be a given as a state’s worth of politicians come together to reach consensus. But barred from that should be the requests of those that simply have little merit.