Florida Senate President Bill Galvano (R-Bradenton) today released the following statement regarding his view on the future of New College of Florida.
“During my 16 years of service in the Florida Legislature, I have consistently supported New College of Florida as an important and unique component of Florida’s State University System. New College became an independent university not long before I was first elected to the Florida House in 2002, and as an elected official representing the area, I have felt my responsibility is to advocate for New College here in Tallahassee. That responsibility became more significant following my election to the Florida Senate where I have served as Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Education, the committee charged with preparing the budget for Florida’s SUS, for four years under two Senate Presidents.
“I fully agree with supporters who tout New College’s niche in a world where higher education has changed dramatically over the last generation, shifting from full-time residential settings, to commuter campuses, to exclusively online programs. With the seemingly endless choice of higher education options for today’s students, New College provides a unique balance between a traditional liberal arts experience and a modern, innovative curriculum. The questions the Florida Legislature must ask about New College, along with every other institution within Florida’s #1 ranked higher-education system, are: does the exorbitant per-student cost of this particular student experience produce a return on investment for Florida taxpayers who support it, and does that return on investment require an administratively independent New College?
“The fact remains that since I came to the Senate in 2012, the Legislature has infused a third of New College’s budget in one special payment or another. While I believe New College adds value to our community, my time in the Legislature is coming to an end, and I do not want the college to be in a situation where it has not adequately addressed some of the systemic problems with its financial situation, and there is not someone from the Sarasota area in a position like mine to backfill such a huge percentage of its budget.
“President O’Shea is working hard to address ongoing enrollment issues, as well as other performance metrics, and I support those important efforts. Therefore, in my view, a merger at this point would be premature, and so I decided to not allow it to move forward.”