Ladies & Gentlemen — USF Polytechnic

The USF Board of Trustees just voted unanimously to change the name of USF Lakeland to USF Polytechnic.

The name will officially change with the passage of the HB1143 which gives USF Polytechnic autonomy from USF Tampa.

From Rep. Seth McKeel’s website (pdf):

HB 1143 University of South Florida Lakeland
Establishes & designates University of South Florida Lakeland campus; requires Board of Trustees to appoint Campus Board; provides that university is administered by Campus Executive Officer; provides that students enrolled at branch campus of university have same rights as other students; requires university to provide for a system of student registration that meets certain conditions.

In the House, I have sponsored HB 1143, a bill entitled University of South Florida Lakeland. This bill creates autonomy for USF Lakeland from its sister campus in Tampa, FL. This is on par with the USF regional campuses in both Sarasota and St. Petersburg. If it passes, USF Lakeland will have control over its daily affairs and be able to shape a unique vision for its own future. This legislation is critical to allowing USF Lakeland’s day to day operations to flow smoothly. Consequently, I will be working hard in the Florida House of Representatives to see that this bill passes. In the coming weeks, your Legislative Delegation will be calling on you to also do your part to see that the USF Lakeland Polytechnic Campus is established. It is important that public leaders in our state know what impact that this project will have on our community and it is up to you to share your thoughts with them. Every Polk County resident must stand together behind one message, “Lakeland deserves a Polytechnic Campus!”

Update: The official USF press release is after the jump.

TAMPA, Fla. (April 28, 2008) – The University of South Florida Board of Trustees has taken the next step to rename the USF Lakeland campus as USF Polytechnic. The new name captures the mission of the regional campus located in Polk County on the state’s fast-growing high tech I-4 Corridor.

“The strategic mission for this campus is to follow the applied learning model as captured by the name polytechnic,” said USF President Judy Genshaft. “The new name recognizes our commitment to applying technology to real world needs.”

USF Lakeland CEO and Vice President Marshall Goodman called the name change an important step in attracting students from beyond the immediate region, which is one of the goals of the new polytechnic campus. “This focus of applied teaching and research clearly sets our niche within the USF system. It allows us to provide high quality education, especially in math and the sciences, that meet the needs of the burgeoning high tech I-4 Corridor and the rest of the state.”

The change was earlier approved by the USF Lakeland Campus Board. The name is pending approval by USF’s accrediting body, the State Legislature and Governor Charlie Crist.

USF has developed a strategy of “mission differentiation” for its regional campuses as part of the USF system. Those campuses are located in St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee. USF intends to seek the same accreditation under the USF Polytechnic name.

“This is a strategy for access to higher education,” President Genshaft said. “Only 22 percent of adults in Florida have a bachelor’s degree, which hurts the economic growth of the state. In addition, USF can be a catalyst for its region, from the Tampa Bay area to Polk County, to collaborate as a region. There’s tremendous community support in this ten-county area for USF and this campus, and we want to help build that strength.”

Work on the development of a new USF Lakeland campus began in 1999. The Board of Governors of the State University System, the Governor, and the Florida House and Senate have all recommended providing USF with $15 million next fiscal year to begin construction of Phase I of the new campus. The State’s investment, combined with local contributions, will generate nearly $200 million in investment in the new USF Polytechnic campus.

The University of South Florida is among the nation’s top 63 public research universities and one of 39 community engaged public universities as designated by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. It is one of Florida’s top three research universities. USF was awarded more than $300 million in research contracts and grants last year. The University offers 219 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine. The University has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 45,000 students on campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland. USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.