SARASOTA, Fla. — Congressman Vern Buchanan and the president of New College of Florida are asking Florida lawmakers to reconsider the idea of merging one of the top liberal arts colleges in the country.
They say the proposal filed earlier this week needs more time and input. The bill filed by Representative Randy Fine from Palm Bay aims to cut administrative costs and what the state spends on the university by merging New College with Florida State and Florida Polytechnic with the University of Florida. The president of New College says the state spends 0.86 of 1 percent of the entire state university budget on the school.
“This is just a very small fraction or percent of the overall budget. If they want to make some adjustments or cuts or want to double the student population, fine let's have that discussion. Let's talk about it. But I'm very uncomfortable about someone from another part of the state telling us what we need to do in our backyard.” U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan said.
He calls the campus the ivy league of Florida. That's because it has one of the highest proportions of public college graduates, 17 percent of New College graduates, go on the receive PhDs in science and engineering within nine years. Both schools were at one point part of the USF system but are currently independent.
The president of New College Donal O'Shea says Fine's budget doesn't add up. He says cutting nine jobs at the school would save $700,000, but he believes it would cost more than $1 to $2 million to merge the schools. O'Shea expects by 2025 the price per student to drop in half. The school has a reputation as one of the best values in the nation and the least expensive to attend in the state. The president says the sticker price for a year is $6,900. But since the school gives so many scholarships, the average student pays $2,100. That’s in large part due to the more than $40 Million in endowments.
Admissions are up 30 percent over last year.
“Most of our students, I think none of them, hardly any of them have loans. We try to make sure of that,” O'Shea said.
“It was part of USF. Now they're talking about it being part of FSU. USF is right around here, so even to make that kind of decision really needs to have some thought and input from the community here locally,” Rep. Buchanan said.
Buchanan says the school has a very special national reputation that they want to preserve. New College graduates make up 25 percent of the nation's Fulbright scholars.
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