It’s true. Florida is getting another education task force, or in this case, a commission.
The Commission on Florida Higher Education Access and Degree Attainment is born. It’s a product of the university system’s Board of Governors (BOG) and not to be confused with other current or soon to be created task forces. In all fairness, this commission has been in the works for a long time.
The notice comes two weeks after Gov. Rick Scott announced the creation of the Blue Ribbon Task Force on State Higher Education Reform. But the panel formed by the BOG isn’t a response to the governor. BOG spokeswoman Kelly Layman said this new commission has been two years in the making.
Board Chairman Dean Colson sent a letter about the commission to university leaders Wednesday. “The Board of Governors has worked hard to develop its new 2025 Strategic Plan, has completely rewritten its Annual Accountability Report, and has created the Work Plan template for our universities to use when making annual presentations to our Board,” wrote Colson. “We have recently created a task force to address the funding challenges for new facilities and will soon launch a second task force to explore the possibility of an online university.”
Colson added that the BOG was invited to make appointments to the governor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force. He wrote, “With the emergence of other task forces, some may question whether we need another group studying higher education. I am of the opinion that now is the time to focus on the crucial issue of capacity.”
What exactly will this new commission do? Members will consider:
- The state’s projected population growth.
- Employers’ needs for workers with advanced levels of knowledge and skills.
- Citizens’ demands for higher education.
- Existing post-secondary capacity issues.
- Any regional or state-wide factors that could maximize, leverage, partner, or re-engineer existing resources.
The commission will be chaired by former BOG Chairwoman Ava Parker. Members include current BOG Chairman Dean Colson, State Board of Education Chairwoman Kathleen Shanahan, Rep. Bill Proctor of St. Augustine, BOG member Thomas G. Kuntz, Higher Education Coordinating Council Co-Chair Marshall M. Criser, and Florida Council of 100 President Susan Pareigis. The BOG student and faculty representatives will serve as advisors.
The Board of Governors will hold its annual meeting in June.