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PRESS RELEASE: Board of Governors approves Pillars of Excellence initiative

At a special meeting called to consider any supplemental information provided by the universities, the Board of Governors approved its legislative budget request today, including recommended funding for the new Pillars of Excellence initiative. The proposal, which consists of Performance Funding, Preeminence, and a new concept known as Universities of Distinction, is expected to enhance the State University System’s upward trajectory and continue raising the national profile of Florida.

Performance Funding and Preeminence are widely credited with boosting the quality of the State University System, driving dramatic improvements in graduation rates, research, and other metrics. Universities of Distinction highlights the goals of the other universities by recommending funding for proposals that build on each school’s existing academic strengths to achieve national excellence in a core area.

“Performance funding and its focus on student success is the reason Florida continues to be ranked top in the country for higher education and why so many of our institutions are making huge year-over-year leaps in U.S. News & World Report,” said Ned Lautenbach, Board of Governors’ Chair. “The Pillars of Excellence proposal will position all 12 of our universities to become models of national excellence.” 

The Board finalized its legislative budget request after hearing university proposals and feedback during meetings on Oct. 3 and Nov. 19. The Universities of Distinction concept is an outgrowth of the Legislature’s 2018 Programs of Excellence initiative as well as previous initiatives that aim to elevate each university to national prominence in at least one academic area. U.S. News & World Report has ranked Florida the top state for higher education for three consecutive years. The State University System of Florida is committed to earning that recognition in the future.

“For years, the Legislature and the Board of Governors have advocated for a framework that leverages the existing strengths of each university to create institutions that are national destinations,” said Syd Kitson, chair of the Board’s Budget Committee. “The requests approved today have the potential to raise the national profile of our institutions while also producing high-quality talent to diversify Florida’s economy and provide a high return on investment for the state.” 

Facts about the State University System of Florida and the Board of Governors

The State University System of Florida is a constitutional body led by the 17-member Board of Governors. The system has 12 universities and more than 341,000 students, making it the second-largest public university system in the nation. Responsibilities include defining the distinctive mission of each institution and managing the system’s coordination and operation. The Board appoints a Chancellor who serves as the system’s chief executive. For more, visit or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.