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Fla. university presidents support immigration reform

Eighteen college and state university presidents, including USF President Judy Genshaft, signed a letter to Florida’s congressional delegation asking them to support a comprehensive reform plan they said would benefit Florida’s higher education system.

“As leaders of Florida’s universities and colleges, educating the next generation of entrepreneurs, scientists and global pioneers, we call on you to address a critical threat to America’s pre-eminence as the center of innovation and prosperity: our inability under current United States immigration policy to retain and capitalize on the talented individuals we are training in our universities and colleges,” the letter stated.

According to the letter, in 2009, 53 percent of the students earning master’s or Ph.D.’s in STEM fields from Florida’s research-intensive universities and 60 percent of engineering Ph.D. candidates were non-citizens.

According to an email from USF Media and Public Affairs Coordinator Adam Freeman, Genshaft said immigration reform is important to USF.

“At the University of South Florida, we are educating the next generation of engineers, entrepreneurs and scientists,” she said in the email. “It’s very important for our foreign-born graduates taught in the United States to stay here and create jobs for Florida, especially in STEM fields. Retaining those talented graduates would provide opportunities for them to develop patents and drive innovations that are key to the state’s future economic growth.”


— Staff report