Letter to the Editor

Education needs to be encouraged by trustees

The 13 Trustees appointed to oversee USF Monday seem to be a cut above the seven plus two who will run the “seamless” education system statewide. For that we may be grateful. Many will also be able fund-raisers.

Former Sen. Connie Mack lends his prestige and the breadth of national experience. H. Patrick Swygert, who was not present at the introductions, will undoubtedly help to keep the focus on university matters.

However, of those who were present and addressed the crowd, only Margarita Cancio expressed any passion for the life of learning. It would be premature to render a verdict on the trustees based on just a few remarks, but many of them failed to distinguish university-level, higher education from post-secondary job-training. Some even equated universities with commercial enterprises in real estate, law or manufacturing. Are these business school trustees or USF Trustees?

We’ll see. It is also unfortunate that so few of the appointees have pursued their own education beyond the undergraduate level.

In future it might be that one of the qualifications for USF trusteeship should be personal commitment to learning in adulthood. Lots of citizens, especially in the business community, pay lip-service to higher education, but what they really want is a trained and abundant workforce with enough income to drive development – not bad things, but not the purposes of higher education at the university level. Finally, not a word was said by any of the Trustees about philosophy, history, literature, social problems or international affairs, the fine arts, critical thinking, etc., but intra-state sports rivalries were mentioned a dozen times.

The silence was as telling as anything that was said. They begin their work with a curious notion of educational excellence in their minds, it seems to me.

– J. D. Noonan is an associate professor of classics.