Leading independent nonprofit calls Florida a “Blueprint for
Reform” in new volume focused on higher education efficiency
The American Council of Trustees and Alumni today released its second guide on university best practices, praising the State University System’s success in boosting accountability and efficiency through performance funding and its rigorous program review process.
The guide, Bold Leadership, Real Reform 2.0: Improving Efficiency, Cutting Costs, and Expanding College Opportunity, is a follow-up to the 2015 report, Bold Leadership, Real Reform: Best Practices in University Governance, which also highlights Florida as a national leader for its commitment to performance funding, program efficiency, and distance learning. The new volume follows up on initiatives—some launched at the height of the financial crisis—described in the earlier guide. This series offer suggestions to university trustees on innovative approaches to advance efficiency, accountability, access and quality in higher education.
“The State University System of Florida and its Board of Governors have shown visionary management and leadership as they have navigated a challenging period of rapid changes in higher education,” said Michael B. Poliakoff, president of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni. “ACTA applauds their efforts to expand educational opportunities while holding the line on costs. These efforts will ensure more deserving students access to a high-quality college education at an affordable price.”
“Florida’s commitment to accountability and efficiency has produced results on everything from graduation and retention to affordability,” said Tom Kuntz, Board of Governors Chair. “It’s wonderful that our state is receiving the national recognition that it deserves.”
The report calls Florida a “blueprint” for other states, praising the Board of Governors for maintaining its commitment to efficiency and reform even after the funding lost during the Great Recession was replenished. The model has resulted in improvements in university graduation and retention rates and more employment success for recent graduates. In fact, performance funding bolstered Florida to the second highest graduation rate out of the 10 largest states.
Additionally, the number of undergraduate degrees in STEM fields has increased by 31 percent and health degrees have grown 52 percent in the past five years. At the university level, several institutions have made demonstrable year-over-year progress. Specifically, the report recognizes Florida Atlantic University for jumping from one of Florida’s lowest-performing universities to a top performer in only one year.
Florida also had a rigorous process for prioritizing academic programs and redirecting funds to areas that better play to each institution’s strengths. Universities terminated 34 degree programs during the 2015-16 academic year, and 46 more have been suspended to assess their future viability.
“The State University System is committed to aligning higher education with the needs of our students and our state, and I’m glad to see that progress recognized,” said Marshall Criser III, State University System chancellor. “This is all about making the best possible choices on how to support our students and provide a return on investment for our taxpayers.”
The recognition comes at the heels of another recent highlight for the State University System. In March, Florida was named the best state for higher education by U.S. News & World Report.