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Monday, June 24, 2024

UF President Bernie Machen will join the Florida House of Representatives' education committee today in Tallahassee to discuss issues affecting Florida's state universities.

Last month, Rep. Bill Proctor invited the 11 State University System presidents to discuss "ideas that could facilitate excellence in Florida's state university institutions and system," he wrote in a letter.

Proctor, who is the chair of the state House education committee, outlined seven main points he wishes each president to address: university profile, STEM (science, technology, engineering, math), general education, research, collaboration, accountability and mission.

A particular emphasis will be placed on the interaction of STEM programs and broader, general education.

University presidents will be asked how their schools will address the state's need for STEM graduates.

Proctor also wants to know how presidents will ensure students graduate with strong problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, regardless of their majors.

Jane Adams, vice president of University Relations, said the education committee meeting will be interesting because Proctor indicated it will be more of a conversation than a hearing.

President Machen will cover the points Proctor asked the university presidents to discuss, but it's hard to predict where the conversation will go, Adams said.

The legislature's increased focus on higher education is encouraging, she said.

"We welcome the increased transparency," she said.

During the 2011 session, the legislature approved a budget for UF that was $54 million less than the previous year's budget.

A state Senate budget meeting previously scheduled for today was canceled.

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In December, state Senate Budget Committee Chair J.D. Alexander made a massive data request from Florida's 11 State University System schools, asking for all university revenues and expenditures, detailed degree cost comparisons and job placement data, large donations to the universities and executive travel expenses, among others.

After receiving the information, which totaled 5,000 pages, Alexander decided Wednesday to cancel the meeting.

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