SARASOTA — During a meeting at New College today, Board of Governors Chair Syd Kitson announced a new initiative on civil discourse in his State of the System address. Chair Kitson tasked Board of Governors’ member Tim Cerio to lead this important initiative through the Strategic Planning Committee. The Committee will provide a series of recommendations and an action plan on how the System can better encourage a diversity of thought and dialogue.
“The State University System has long respected differing viewpoints and opinions and appreciates all races, diverse cultures, nationalities, and communities,” said Syd Kitson, chair of the Board of Governors. “Our students come from 189 countries and all 50 states, and each one contributes to their campus with a unique heritage, perspective, and set of experiences. In my view, differences of opinion, experiences, and backgrounds provide the foundation for understanding, learning, and growth. It is how we make each other better. I look forward to hearing the recommendations from the Committee.”
This initiative reiterates the commitment made by the State University System of Florida when all 12 state universities adopted the “Statement on Free Expression” in April 2019 to support and encourage a full and open discourse and the robust exchange of ideas and perspectives on university campuses.
“Civic discourse, conducted in a civil manner without fear of reprisal, is critical to free speech and ensuring academic and intellectual freedom – not just on our university campuses, but throughout our country,” said Tim Cerio, chair of the Strategic Planning Committee. “Robust civic discourse ensures a robust democracy.”
Chair Kitson’s State of the System also emphasized the critical importance of Student Success, Affordability, and Research for the System. Despite the challenges of COVID-19, universities have consistently responded to these strategic priorities with performance and productivity.
Florida continues to be nationally recognized as the #1 state for higher education in the country by U.S. News & World Report. The State University System now has five public institutions ranked in the Top 100 for public universities, the fourth-most in the country.
As national student debt continues to rise, Florida’s state universities provide baccalaureate degree programs at less than $6,000 when factoring in financial aid. Each year since 2015, the System has shown a decline in the number of students taking loans.
Research has always been a vital priority of the Board of Governors. The State University System has attained over $400 million in research expenditures, which has yielded a $7 billion impact on Florida’s economy. The Board developed a research dashboard to track and monitor research metrics and has provided a vehicle to promote inter-institutional collaboration, highlighting state university research initiatives, discoveries, and innovations. State university faculty, researchers, and students are actively engaged in cutting edge research to address various issues associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Other meeting highlights include:
- The Board confirmed the presidential reappointment of Dr. Larry Robinson, President, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University.
- The Board approved the 2021 World Class Faculty and Scholar Program Report.
- The Board approved the 2021 Professional and Graduate Degree Excellence Program Report.
- The Board approved the Policy Regarding the Evaluation and Awarding of Postsecondary Credit for Prior Military Training, Courses, and Occupations.
- The Board approved the limited access status for the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science in Biological and Physical Sciences at Florida Atlantic University.
- The Board approved debt authorization for athletic improvements for the University of Florida Athletic Association.
- The Board appointed Chanel Rowe to the Florida International University Board of Trustees.
- The Board appointed James Stewart to the New College of Florida Board of Trustees.
- The Board appointed Tiffany Altizer to the University of Central Florida Board of Trustees.
- The Board appointed Shilen Patel and Melissa Seixas to the University of South Florida Board of Trustees.
For more information, consult the meeting’s official minutes at http://www.flbog.edu/. The Board’s next meeting is March 23, 2021 at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in Tallahassee.
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 420,000 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 flbog.edu or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.