New Lakeland University Seen As Drain On Others

Sharon Rieger's picture

State officials say Florida faces a crisis in higher education, ranking in the bottom 20 percent nationally in the number of college degrees it awards.

State Sen. JD Alexander and other Polk County leaders say they have an answer.

Sever USF Polytechnic from the main Tampa campus and let it grow into its own state university, Florida's 12th.

But a former Florida chancellor, Charlie Reed, offers a warning. The state will be living with this decision for decades, he said, and if it's driven by politics and local boosterism, it could drain rather than bolster the system.

Before leaving Florida to become the California State University system chancellor in 1998, Reed spent much of his time pushing back against politicians and community leaders who wanted new universities or medical schools in their towns.

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