Rage Against FSU and The State Legislature

The following is aimed at FSU and a State Legislature running out of money but willing to spend it in random places. I really don't like talking politics, but in this case, I don't care. The fate of the University of Florida is at stake. And to my friends with connections in Tallahassee (you know who you are), tell your boys to step up.

At the start of this decade, the State Legislature decided it was not enough to have medical schools at Florida and USF. With a desire to create new doctors and possibly inspire more research dollars, Florida International, Florida State, and UCF all got new medical schools. Now, with the economy struggling and budget cuts looming, the State Legislature has decided to continue funding the three new schools while taking cash from UF and USF.

I'm not against more doctors or moving Florida from an agriculture/tourism economy to a business/technology economy. But I am against anything that leads to this quote.

"Our accreditation's in jeopardy," said University of Florida medical school dean Dr. Bruce Kone. "It's a real crisis, and we need some tangible evidence that the state is going to increase its support."

What? Accreditation? Surely, he is exaggerating.

UF has increased its enrollment by 25 percent to 540 students in the past five years, yet state money dropped by 40 percent during that period, Kone said.

National accreditors sent UF a letter this summer warning that if state money continues to decline, "it is likely to compromise the quality" of the medical school. They said lecture halls are too crowded and the library resources "challenged."

That's right folks. The `Go cure cancer' part of the Gator Nation commercial could be no more. Let's take a harder look at where UF's cash is going. From the same St. Pete Times article linked above;

Since 2000, the state has spent $200-million for the college of medicine at FSU, an initiative so contentious it triggered the dissolution of the state Board of Regents, the university system's former governing board.

FSU's $43.9-million in state dollars this year translates to about $120,000 for each of its 357 students. Enrollment will be capped at 480 students by 2010.

In contrast, UF gets less than $30,000 per student from the state, even though it costs the medical school $73,000 a year to educate each aspiring doctor. The average cost nationally of educating a medical student is $58,267.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME? FSU GETS $90,000 MORE PER STUDENT THAN UF? WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE?

This is inexcusable. What is that extra $90,000 going towards? Convincing the idiots at FSU that they are just as smart as kids at UF? Building another erector set that doubles as a stadium? Maybe they want to bring back the Chiropractic School idea. FSU almost didn't get their original accreditation! Now, they're getting $90,000 more per student than UF? What is this, reverse FCAT funding where the crappy school gets more money? It's bad enough the Human Catcher's Mitt went to FSU and is surely steering some of the cash, but where's The Speaker? Oh, he's dumping $80 million into da U with the Catcher's Mitt. Lovely. You can give back your UF degree now Marco.

This isn't about being a homer and getting upset over UF losing cash. Look at USF. Their med program was what made it from a commuter school into a regional powerhouse. That part of Tampa is all medical facilities and tech centers. One of their doctors even took out my appendix. If it was a FSU surgeon, he probably would have taken out my kidney instead and sold it to buy another Bowden statue. USF also tried to take over a struggling Alzheimer's center, but was denied. USF's med school was what gave it a chance to push FSU out of the way for second place in the state. Now, that will never happen, especially when the Oregon Health Science University is getting $60 million to open a facility in Port St. Lucie.

All of this gives the impression that the State Legislature is willing not to lift up schools to UF's level, but to drag down UF. I wish I knew how all this got started, but we didn't cover "How to destroy a state's flagship university" in Dave Hedge's legislative class.

The one thing that has impressed me most about UF is that everyone I know LOVES UF. With that in mind, make it a point this year to donate your time or treasure to the University. Buy a brick, get the license plate, join us in the Tampa Gator Club or a club near you. If that isn't enough for you, get involved in International Gator Day or start donating to the UF Foundation. (I added the foundation to the links as well.)

Since the government in Tallahassee is clearly unwilling to fund UF, the school will have to look for donations and hope a wave of support forces the Legislature into action. Maybe I shouldn't be too worried about this. After all, we're Gators. We're smart enough to figure this out.

If you have comments, good or bad, drop them below or email us at alligatorarmy@gmail.com.

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