USF PolyTech turns to Polk commissioners for support | News
BARTOW, Florida -- "We're being singled out."
USF PolyTechnic's interim regional chancellor, David Touchton, and students are turning to the Polk County Board of Commissioners for support. Touchton says, "Recent legislation would leave us dead in the water. We would not be able to recruit faculty if we do not know if we will exist."
"If this bill is signed, it will create educational refugees displaced due to some political head butting," says Damon Dennis, 21, student body president at USF Poly.
PolyTechnic students say their education is in limbo. "They keep telling us it's going to be OK. We don't feel it will be OK," says Cecilia Rodriguez, 21, student.
Touchton warns commissioners $103 million in cuts would cripple the university and Polytech's immediate independence as the 12th university would come at a steep price.
"That would trickle down the I-4 corridor with a negative $700 million economic impact," he says.
He assures the board PolyTechnic's independence and accreditation is USF's goal under the Board of Governor's plan. The BoG's plan is designed to make Polytechnic the state's 12th university in five years.
Touchton told commissioners the paperwork is in the hands of accreditation agency officials in Atlanta and he and USF President Judy Genshaft will be meeting with accreditation officials February 28th.
"I don't care whose name is on the front of it, I want a university in Polk County as soon as possible," says Polk County Commissioner Edwin Smith, District 2.
Commissioners say USF and legislators have left them on the sidelines during this controversy. Commissioner Bob English from District 1 tells the group from USF, "In spite of the fact Polk County has contributed over $21 million into this project, we've been ignored."
USF asked commissioners for a resolution supporting the BoG's transition plan for PolyTech and opposing Senator JD Alexander's proposed budget cuts, which they call disproportionate compared to other universities.
In the end, USF is left without a resolution. Commissioners say this decision will be resolved by state leaders in Tallahassee during the next three weeks.
Commissioner Smith says he agrees with Commissioner Sam Johnson from District 5. "I don't think this is the time for the Polk County Commission to take sides."
Previous USF Coverage:
2/20/12 - Judy Genshaft, JD Alexander meeting "productive" but secretive
2/15/12 - Budget cuts live, but ''divorce settlement'' brokered
2/14/12 - USF Students depart overnight to protest budget cuts
2/14/12 - 10 News leading charge to #SaveUSF
2/14/12 - High school students impacted by USF attacks
2/14/12 - USF fears "devastating" 58% budget cuts
2/8/12 - JD Alexander pushes "backdoor" path for USF Poly independence
12/22/11 - Barbs traded over Genshaft's handling of USF Poly handling
12/20/11 - Genshaft dismisses USF Poly chancellor
11/10/11 - BOG grants USF Poly conditional independence
11/7/11 - USF Poly spends thousands on Star Wars statues
11/3/11 - JD Alexander's bully pulpit
10/31/11 - Polk leaders vote for USF Poly independence