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News Clips 02/14/2013
The digital arts program at FSU moves back to Tallahassee
Source: The Examiner, 02/13/13
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By Armand Colson
The Florida Board of Governors oversees the public universities in the state. The Florida Board of Governors Select Committee on Florida State University (FSU) Academic Film Program has recommended moving the FSU digital arts program from the West Palm Beach satellite campus to FSU’s main campus in Tallahassee after the bankruptcy filing of Digital Domain, its corporate partner in the program.
The Board of Governors had longstanding problems with FSU establishing the program in conjunction with Digital Domain in West Palm Beach. The plan never faced a formal vote or vetting from either FSU’s own trustees or the Board of Governors. Approval from the oversight groups was not necessary when the partnership between Digital Domain and FSU was being formed. One Board of Governors committee member referred to the Digital Domain agreement as the worst economic deal in the history of Florida.
The debacle that is the FSU and Digital Domain partnership has raised issues with current students and the city of West Palm Beach.
As reported in The Palm Beach Post, the students in the program wrote a letter to Frank Brogan, Chancellor of the State University System, signed by all 25 students of the West Palm Beach based class. The letter expressed the students’ concern they were not given a say in the decision to relocate and the Board of Governors made no effort to understand the curriculum.
The recommendation to move the location of the program includes a provision whereby the 19 current freshmen who stay in Tallahassee during their first year of the program will complete the program at the main campus. For the students currently in West Palm Beach it is unknown, at this point, if they will be required to relocate to the main campus, as accrediting agencies generally require schools to provide what was promised students when they enrolled.
For the city of West Palm Beach, $2.15 million was provided to FSU to create the program and locate it in West Palm Beach. The first year of the program would be in Tallahassee and the remaining three years of the program would be completed in the facility in West Palm Beach. West Palm Beach Mayor, Jeri Muoio said, “If we don’t have that curriculum we want our $2.15 million back if that curriculum isn’t being delivered in West Palm Beach.” The resolution of the $2.15 million is yet to be determined.
In her presentation to the Board of Governors, Mayor Muoio indicated the city had $6 million dedicated to attracting businesses that would create jobs related to the digital arts major. She promised $250,000 approved by the city commission to help pay the rent for the program through August 2013, and indicated the city hired an economic development director to create an industry of media arts companies in West Palm Beach. However, that was not enough to keep the FSU program in West Palm Beach.
Mayor Muoio has indicated she plans to lobby Governor Rick Scott and approach economic development groups for help in contributing to pursue the creation of a media and digital arts curriculum,and jobs base in West Palm Beach.
Frank Brogan has said, “At the end of the day, trying to take one bad scenario that didn’t play out for anyone and quickly reinvent and cobble together something similar with people who maintain they are fascinated and enthusiastic, isn’t necessarily a good plan.”