Hierarchy will ruin Florida A&M University

Three years after the administrative turmoil that defined the Castell Bryant regime, President James H. Ammons and his leadership are still trying to pick up the broken pieces and move forward.

However, Sen. Evelyn Lynn, R-Ormond Beach, is seeking to put a damper on FAMU’s progress with the proposal of SB 2442 – a bill that would turn the State University System into hierarchical system. The measure was unanimously approved by a senate committee during this legislative session.

If passed by the legislature, SB 2442 would allow the Florida Board of Governors to: assign specific projects, responsibilities, exemptions and spell out the missions of every public institution based on the quality of its students, the national reputation of its faculty and academic research programs, the quality of externally generated research, patents and licenses. The bill would also designate a flagship university, which by legislative standards is a research-based school that has an international economic impact. The University of Florida is supposedly the only school to fall under this category. Is this bill is a product of sound research or under the table politics?

Nothing separates UF from any of the other state schools except its increasing applicant rejection rate, special program earmarks from the legislature and national funding for research. Ironically, these are the very same factors used to afford national rankings for schools like UF. This year for example, UF is ranked 15th among the best public schools by US News and World Report. SB 2442 hopes to help the Gainesville campus climb the ranks by allowing it to compete with other flagship schools around the country. This notion should outrage taxpayers as in-state applicants to the UF would be given the third degree and forced to attend a lower tier state school to make room for international students.

Furthermore, SB 2442 would deprive the other state universities of the freedom to create programs that would tap into growing sectors of the economy. Aspiring programs, like FAMU’s college of dentistry, would undoubtedly suffer as the BOG would be given the authority to tell FAMU the type of graduate it is allowed to produce. This ill-advised bill, along with the infamous Pappas Plan of 2007, begs the question: How much more bad legislation can the university system withstand before it crumbles completely?