Gov. Scott's idea to slash liberal arts funding called "uninformed"

11:00 PM, Oct 11, 2011   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida - If you're a student trying to earn a degree in anthropology, or even journalism, Governor Rick Scott says don't bother.

He says if the state is to compete for the best jobs, he wants students focusing on science, engineering, and math. Governor Scott says Florida needs more graduates in high tech fields so companies will consider relocating to the Sunshine State. But he's being criticized for his idea to shift tax dollars away from liberal arts majors like anthropology and journalism.

Natalie Odom is majoring in mass communications at the University of South Florida. She says, "I think it's awful because not everyone has an interest in math and science and if he cuts out areas that people have an interest in, that is just going to make for less students enrolled in college because they may not want to study a field that they have no desire or passion to study."

It's not clear what evidence Governor Scott has that graduates have less job prospects in the anthropology and journalism fields. According to the Miami Herald, liberal arts majors represent a small slice of all Florida undergraduate degrees: 4.7 percent. According to the American Anthropology Association, about 64 percent of those with a graduate degree in anthropology find a job within 12 months of graduating.

Staff members from USF'S Department of Anthropology say it's considered one of the best in the country and has been a consistent job creator for Tampa and the state of Florida. Brent Weisman, Ph.D. is the chair of the department and says the governor's statement is "completely uninformed. That's a statement made without any basis in fact."

Weisman adds, "I think it's an impressionist, anecdotal statement based on perhaps the stereotype of anthropology as a discipline that studies underwater basket weaving or something like that. It bears no relation to reality."

USF also has a career center that is free and open to all students regardless of what they're studying. Counselors are on hand to give students the tools they need to land a job  whether it's how to dress for an interview or put together a resume.  They put on job fairs and many employers visit the center to conduct interviews with students.

Dan Van Hoose is the assistant director of The Career Center and says, "They're exploring. They're learning. They're growing. They just know they have an interest in that academic topic. That doesn't necessarily define their skill set for life at that point in time."   

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