TALLAHASSEE, FL – On January 19th the three University Presidents who make up the Florida Consortium of Metropolitan Research Universities; Dr. Mark Rosenberg of Florida International University, Dr. John Hitt of the University of Central Florida, and Dr. Judy Genshaft of the University of South Florida met in Tallahassee to discuss the future of the Florida Consortium with lawmakers at the State Capitol Building. The three Presidents were joined by Charles Hokanson, Senior Vice President and Chief Policy Officer of the Helios Education Foundation and Dr. Michael Preston, Executive Director of the Florida Consortium.
The main purpose of these meetings was to bring a greater awareness of the collaborative work of the Florida Consortium universities to improve access, student success, and increase career opportunities and to garner support for the Florida Consortium’s work on behalf of all college bound students in the State of Florida. The unique aspect of the trip to Tallahassee was the rarity to have three current University Presidents from the State University System using their valuable time in Tallahassee to set aside individual university projects for a collective project especially during a legislative session.
Michael Preston, Florida Consortium Executive Director summed up the day by commenting “I am excited about how these meetings can bring awareness to the work that all three Florida Consortium universities are doing for students by leveraging resources and ideas to work more efficiently and to assist especially low income students not only find success in college but to assist them find the best career focused opportunities when they graduate. And there are no better advocates for that message than our three University Presidents and our partner, the Helios Education Foundation.”
Members of the delegation took time to outline to lawmakers how the Florida Consortium has begun the work of finding student success programs that all three universities have in common and having those university professionals work together to improve the efficiency of their efforts to ensure our three Universities are producing over 3,600 more graduates than we could have alone by 2020. “That’s like the State of Florida adding a new mid-size college. Think about what kind of impact that can have on the Florida economy considering our goal is to make sure the majority of those additional degrees will be from students who come from first generation, low income families. This collaboration can be transformative in so many ways.” Added Preston.
Upcoming projects that were shared with lawmakers were upcoming meetings that included faculty, administrative staff, and business leaders in the next few months including the Florida Consortium’s second annual Student Success Conference in Miami on March 21st, a Helios Community Convening of Business and Education Leaders with a focus on strengthening employment opportunities later this Spring, and a faculty led project to increase student success and career placement in STEM fields of study. All of these projects are aimed at meeting Florida Consortium goals of increasing career focused opportunities for our students to not only get a job but to find one that includes a competitive salary. The Florida Consortium has set a goal of raising the median salary of their 2020 graduates 10% over current projections through the increase of graduates going into high demand fields.
The Florida Consortium of Metropolitan Research Universities aims to produce more career-ready graduates with lower debt, better training and workforce skills that meet the demand of Florida’s growing economy. The Florida Consortium is a collaborative endeavor between Florida International University, the University of Central Florida, and the University of South Florida. Operationally formed with consultation and support from the Helios Education Foundation, the Consortium will grow the number of degreed professionals and positively impact Florida’s economic development. Consortium institutions serve 47% of State University System total enrollment and 54% of the state’s undergraduate minority enrollment.