Just when USF had a hope that more academics might be in charge of overseeing major educational decisions, the list for the new Board of Governors was released. From the 17 who will sit on the board, the 14 gubernatorial appointees are mostly white, Republican businessmen and lawyers — much like the current Board of Trustees that oversees USF.
When Floridians passed Amendment 11 in last year’s general election, they thought they were going to find diversity and more academic voices to guide the state’s university system. Instead, they found more cronies to support Gov. Jeb Bush’s agendas and to reinforce the already Republican-stacked BOTs.
USF’s BOT has been criticized as being “too white” in the past, especially with the resignation of member Patrick Swygert, the board’s only black and academic member. In its defense, the BOG at this point has two black women and one Indian. However, that is only three members out of 17, a ridiculous representation of the diversity actually found throughout Florida’s universities.
Even more ridiculous is the number of businessmen and lawyers appointed. All have college degrees of various types, but none are a current professor or teacher. Most were chosen for their obvious connections to powerful organizations, such as John Temple, a past president of Arvida Corp. and Arvida/Disney, and Chris Sullivan, who was a member of the USF BOT and is the founder of and current chairman and CEO for Outback Steakhouse Inc.
While such appointees are necessary, to load the entire BOG with them is a death knell to Florida’s education system. Education cannot be run strictly as a business. Schools and universities should be guided by academics and scholars who understand the purpose of education and know what students need. They know what is happening first-hand.The board should not allow education to be based and governed entirely on business strategies.