Florida Polytechnic University will become Florida’s 12th state university in July after Gov. Rick Scott signed a contentious bill accelerating independence for the University of South Florida’s Lakeland campus.
The new university was a final victory for Senate Budget Chairman JD Alexander (R-Lake Wales), who had crusaded for the school for months and repeatedly clashed with USF leaders over the future of the campus. Alexander is leaving the Legislature because of term limits.
In a lengthy letter explaining his decision to sign the bill (SB 1994), Scott systematically knocked down objections that even he had raised in publicly weighing the measure’s fate.
Critics have said it will take longer for an independent university to gain accreditation and will cost too much at a time when the state is cutting funding for other institutions of higher education.
Scott wrote that the new university will simply receive the funding that would have gone to the current USF campus and that the school was required to reach certain benchmarks toward accreditation by 2016.