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News Clips 01/18/2013
Top education leader to universities: 'Being "good" is not good enough'
Source: Orlando Sentinel, 01/17/13
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By Denise-Marie Ordway
Florida's public universities are performing well considering the drastic cuts in state funding they have suffered in recent years — and they are still a good value, one of the university system's top leaders stressed Thursday in his annual State of the System address.
But Dean Colson, chairman of the Board of Governors, also said that "being 'good' is not good enough" and called for improvements.
Half of state universities have six-year graduation rates of less than 50 percent, he pointed out. State schools also lag behind much of the nation in the number of faculty who are members of the National Academy of Sciences and other prestigious groups.
"If you want our system truly to serve as an economic engine for the state, we must have the resources to recruit the best and the brightest," Colson said during a Board of Governors meeting at the University of Florida in Gainesville.
In his State of the System address, which comes weeks before the start of a legislative session that could have major impacts on higher education, Colson also emphasized the need for collaboration among public and private universities, lawmakers and business leaders to meet Florida's higher-education demands.
He also noted the importance of studying humanities — a nod to a controversial proposal that legislators will consider that calls for charging lower tuition in high-demand fields such as science and engineering. Faculty have argued that would draw students from humanities and liberal-arts programs, which already are small.
"I don't think anyone is interested in raising a generation that has no appreciation for literature, history or the arts," said Colson, a Miami attorney who studied history as an undergraduate. "No one wants to live in a state without museums, orchestras, ballets or operas."
He did stress that families should be given data on future job prospects to help students make decisions.