The Board of Governors this week advanced several important initiatives to boost student safety, enhance student success, and strengthen ties with the business community.
The Board’s Drugs, Alcohol and Mental Health Task Force continued to keep student safety and well-being front-and-center this week when it heard an update on initiatives to make sure faculty receive mental health awareness training. The Board also heard presentations about the strategies the universities have enacted to address mental health concerns and about best practices regarding education, prevention, and treatment relative to student drug and alcohol use.
“We have a responsibility to make sure our students are safe and have access to the care they need to be successful on campus and beyond,” said Dr. Fernando Valverde, Chair of the Task Force. “Working hand-in-hand with university trustees, we are rigorously reviewing what resources we have in place and how we can improve the healthcare of our students.”
Following an initiative by the Florida Legislature to build on the System’s existing strengths, the Board also approved its Programs of Excellence Report, which provides a framework for boosting distinctive research and academic programs.
“Just as we successfully became the top university system in the nation, we are now determined to focus our collective System efforts toward leading nationally in research,” said Alan Levine, Chair of the Research and Academic Excellence Committee. “Our Governor and Legislature have stood behind our efforts, and we believe with their continued support, our research enterprise can not only continue contributing to our economic prosperity, but can help us solve some of our state’s and the world’s most vexing problems.”
The Board also recognized LexisNexis as its State University System Business Champion, acknowledging its outstanding partnership with New College’s Data Science Program. Flavio Villanustre, LexisNexis’ Vice President of Infrastructure and Products, and Nicole Navarro, a recent New College graduate who is now a software engineer at LexisNexis, accepted the award on behalf of the company. Ms. Navarro interned at LexisNexis as a student, working with the company to analyze social network data and determine which communities would most benefit from drug diversion programs. New College’s Data Science program includes a practicum in which each student is paired with a team at a company and charged with using data to solve a problem.
“I can’t overstate how important it is that our universities partner with the business community to make sure students have the practical experience to hit the ground running when they graduate,” said Ned Lautenbach, chair of the Board of Governors. “The partnership with LexisNexis is an excellent example of how our universities can work together with businesses to solve real-world problems.”
Other meeting highlights:
- The Board was joined by its newest member, Shawn Felton, who is the faculty representative. He is Department Chair of Athletic Training and Director of the Doctor of Athletic Training Program at Florida International University within the Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing and Health Sciences.
- The Board approved several legislative budget requests for the 2019 legislative session, including for performance funding and World Class Scholars.
- The Board heard from Cissy Proctor, Director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, and Jerry Parrish, Chief Economist and Director of Research for the Florida Chamber Foundation, to discuss alignment of talent with Florida’s future workforce. The panel is a part of the Board’s Think Florida: A Higher Degree for Business initiative, which builds synergies with the business community.
- The Board heard an update on the progress of the USF Consolidation Planning Study and Implementation Task Force, which is charged with developing recommendations to improve service to students by phasing out the separate accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges & Schools Commission on Colleges.
- The Board approved a recommendation by the 2+2 workgroup to develop a comprehensive and easily accessible web-based 2+2 advising toolkit. The Board also heard an overview of financial aid for transfer students.
For more information, consult the meeting’s official minutes at flbog.edu. The Board’s next meeting is November 7-8 at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton.