Lakeland, Florida - A Lakeland landmark in the making is featured in a pickup truck commercial. But there are questions over whether it's legal to advertise and make money off of something that's paid for through your tax dollars.
The announcer in the Dodge Ram commercial says, "This is Ram truck month, and we recognize it takes a modern marvel to make one."
You may have caught a glimpse of the ad on TV thatnot only bragsabout the truck's best features, but it also shinesa spotlight on Florida Polytechnic University's enormous iconthat isstill under construction near the intersection of Interstate 4 and the Polk Parkway.
When the school is completed itwill focus entirely on science, technology, engineering, and math.
Crystal Lauderdale is a spokeswoman forFlorida Polytechnic and says,"That is our Innovation, Science and Technology building. That is our primary campus structure and our main classroom building."
At 160,000square feet, it will all come with a pretty steep price tag of about $100 million overall. Lauderdale says, "The total cost of the building is $60 million, but keep in mind that includes architect's fees, all of the construction and all of the development."
Thecommercialis putting a small dentinto the process of raising funds for the school. Thetransaction does appears to be legal. Lauderdale says, "Yes, our General Counsel, Gina DeIulio worked with us on the agreement, and there are no legal prohibitions for using a state university building in a commercial."
Lauderdale cited aFlorida Statute that statesthat each university's Board of Trustees is responsible for determining their own policies for such use:
Florida Statutes § 1013.10 requires the University Board of Trustees to adopt rules, regulations, or policies and procedures necessary to protect educational facilities and grounds when used for any legal assembly or community use centers. BOG regulation 1.001(7)(g) provides that the Board "shall be responsible for the use, maintenance, protection, and control of, and the imposition of charges for, university-owned or university-controlled buildings and grounds, property and equipment.
Lauderdale adds, "The crew was on our construction site for three days in late December and we negotiated a rate of $15,000 per day, so it's a total of $45,000 that went to the university."
Florida Polytechnic University says it has had hundreds of applications and expects to have a freshman class of 500 people when they open in August.
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