Putting Education Reform To The Test

Charles Reed Blasts Florida’s Disjointed University System

Charles Reed is the former chancellor of Florida's university system, and now leads the nation's largest system in California.

Charles Reed says Florida’s colleges and universities have lost their way.

He paints a picture of a disjointed, parochial higher education system where every university and college is out for itself, and “It’s turned into what the local chamber wants, not what the state needs.”

Exhibit number one, he says: USF Polytechnic’s drive for independence.

“That’s no place for a polytechnic university,” he said. “That’s no Silicon Valley. California has only two polytechnics for 38 million people — and we have Silicon Valley.”

Why should you care? Reed has a unique perspective, as chancellor of the State University System of Florida from 1986 to 1998, and chancellor of the California State University system since 1998.

Last week he talked to the Florida Council of 100, a group of business leaders. The St. Petersburg Times adapted the remarks for publication Sunday.

Some highlights from Reed’s remarks:

  • “There’s no sense of mission because it’s every institution for itself. And there’s no incentive for them to act in Florida’s best interests.”
  • “Everyone wants law schools, medical schools and graduate programs because they are prestigious. So now, schools are creating more grad programs at the expense of undergraduate programs — with the dollars generated by undergraduate enrollment. These low-enrollment duplicative graduate programs have not served the state well.”
  • “You also have community colleges offering baccalaureate degrees. This has resulted in ‘degree creep’ — and it has shortchanged the state in terms of workforce development programs, like allied health and occupational/technical programs. It has now become a race to see who can become a four-year college.”
  • “Florida’s financial aid system is upside-down. Bright Futures provides the most aid to people who need it the least.”



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