Re Carl Hiaasen’s May 26 column, Hail to Our Newest Campus: Hiaasen’s negative comments regarding Florida Polytechnic reflects nothing of the university’s vital mission, which is to produce highly qualified, competitive graduates who are capable of moving into high-skilled science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) jobs.
According to data provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, nationwide there are expected to be two million jobs created in STEM-related fields by 2014. Florida education leaders, including the Board of Governors, have called for greater emphasis on STEM degree production to meet the increasing demand and help grow our technology-based industries and professions.
In its strategic plan, the Board of Governors outlines its commitment to STEM education and expresses the need for our state universities to award more STEM degrees in order for our state to become more competitive globally. In addition, the separation of Polytechnic from the University of South Florida had been called for by numerous community leaders and was approved by the Board of Governors.
Although we understand that there has been criticism surrounding the creation of this university and of the timetable in which it was done, Florida Polytechnic University is here, and it is time to accept it and move on. Polk County, and Florida as a whole, will be gaining an independent institution with the potential of being a driving force in technology and innovation-driven higher education that would put us on the national education map.
The Board of Governors has received more than 50 applications for the openings to be filled on the Florida Polytechnic University Board of Trustees, which is indicative of the renewed commitment by qualified and visionary candidates statewide to help move Florida Polytechnic forward.
Until the official infrastructure and administration are established, more than 70 Polk County business leaders and community members have come together to be a clear, resounding voice of hometown support for Florida’s new university.
It’s in the best interests of our communities, our state and the future students of Florida Polytechnic to make it the innovation-driven, higher education facility that it is destined to be.
Cliff Otto, co-chair,
Florida Poly Vision, Inc., Polk County