Here’s what caught my eye over the weekend…4/1/13

Happy April Fool’s Day!

Week 5 (April 1-5, 2013) of the 2013 Legislative Regular Session in Florida begins today:

Here are your weekly calendars for Senate & House.

Higher Education Legislative News:

Key issues in 2013 Legislature’s second half
…TUITION: Despite opposition from Gov. Rick Scott, who has likened a tuition increase to a tax on Florida students and their families, the House is advancing a 6 percent increase for university and state college students. Weatherford, the House leader, said the increase is justified given that Florida ranks among the lowest tier of states in its tuition and fees, saying many students spend more on their cellphones than their tuition bills. Weatherford said the House position is “negotiable.” With Scott’s opposition and no tuition increase in the Senate budget, the 6 percent increase is not likely to happen in the last half of the session, although lawmakers could settle on a lower number…

Universities may get new source for PECO dollars
Florida Current
…School construction money comes from a tax on energy and land-line telephones. As consumers have switched to energy-efficient cars and appliances and to cell phones, public education capital outlay, or PECO, revenue has gone from a high of $1.2 billion six years ago to an estimated $80 million for the 2013-14 budget. The Appropriations Committee proposal expands the revenue sources schools can use to secure bonds, increases the amount of fees students pay that can be used to finance debt, and eliminates some legislative restrictions on how universities spend construction money…

Senate moves closer to House on high school graduation requirements
Tallahassee Democrat
After making major changes this week, the Florida House and the Senate are moving closer together on sweeping proposals that would expand career education programs and ease graduation requirements tied to end-of-course exams…

State University System

Why Was FAU Student Suspended?
Inside Higher Ed
Florida Atlantic University has maintained for a week now that no student was suspended for refusing to participate in an exercise in which students were told to write “Jesus” on a piece of paper and to stand on it. And for a week now, the lawyer for one student has been saying that the university suspended his client for objecting to the lesson. Florida’s governor and numerous other politicians have also joined the discussion, denouncing the lesson that was used, and demanding to know why the student was suspended…

‘I Was Doing My Job’
Inside Higher Ed
“It was a normal class,” recalled Deandre Poole, in recalling an exercise that upended his academic career. He had used the classroom activity before, and wasn’t particularly worried about it. “I followed the directions from the instructor’s guide,” he said. The course at Florida Atlantic University was in intercultural communications, and the exercise involves having students write “Jesus” on a piece of paper, and then asking them to step on it. When they hesitate, the instructor has an opening to discuss symbols and their meaning.

Gaffes 101: FAU’s reputation taking hit after hit after hit
Miami Herald
Even with new dorms and its own football team, the challenge for Florida Atlantic University has been simply getting noticed — more-established state universities such as the University of Florida often gobble up most of the media attention. This semester, though, FAU has no problem attracting the limelight. The catch: FAU’s newfound name recognition is happening in the worst kind of way…

FAU puts ‘stomp Jesus’ instructor on paid leave
The Florida Atlantic University instructor involved in the controversial “stomp on Jesus” class assignment has been placed on paid leave, with the school citing concerns for his safety. Communications instructor Deandre Poole, who is black, has had death threats and racially charged messages left on his voice mail and in his email, said Chris Robe, president of the FAU chapter of the faculty union…

FIU’s new court designs will blow your mind
Yahoo Sports
Behold one proposed look for Florida International University’s home court, as provided by head coach Richard Pitino on Twitter…

FIU court

Weatherford says Florida Polytechnic’s future far from certain (blog)
So perhaps JD Alexander should be worried that his dream of a 12th university in Polk County will get dashed. A day after the Florida Senate excised the $22 million for the yet-to-be-built Florida Polytechnic from its education budget, House Speaker Will Weatherford said he’s open to reevaluating whether it belongs in the state university system…

Florida Polytech University Fights To Stay Independent
Florida’s newest public university is fighting to keep its independence. University officials gave a long-awaited update to the state’s university governing board Thursday, but questions still abound over what will happen to the fledgling school, which is still in the start-up phase…

UF’s flow of research dollars may slow to trickle
Gainesville Sun
For a decade, the University of Florida has seen an unprecedented gusher of research dollars flowing its way, cultivating new inventions and innovations that contributed to a growth spurt in Gainesville’s economy. But because of federal sequestration, the automatic spending cuts triggered by the austerity-minded Budget Control Act of 2011, that gusher could become a trickle if members of Congress don’t resolve their differences over spending and taxing priorities…

UWF to host 13th Festival on the Green
Pensacola News Journal
Next month, the University of West Florida will present the 13th annual Festival on the Green to celebrate Pensacola’s history and culture. The free event, which runs on April 5 and 6 this year, usually draws more than 20,000 people of all ages.

Vigil for UWF student hit by train
A vigil will be held tonight for a University of West Florida student who died after being hit by a train Monday. Police say 22-year-old Anja Govedarica was walking her pitbull near the train tracks off of Chipley Avenue…

State College System

CF students, faculty spend spring break giving back
While most college students spent spring break reveling at the beach, two dozen College of Central Florida students and many staff members spent the time helping their fellow man and the environment…

Daytona State College weighs switch in employee health plans
Daytona Beach News-Journal
Daytona State College is looking at whether to join a consortium of 21 other state colleges in hopes of lowering its health insurance costs to the college and its employees. The college has been self-insured since 1992 and uses a third-party administrator to pay the claims and manage the program for about 1,000 employees, according to Daytona State officials.

Lawmakers’ proposed budget would boost GCSC funding
The News Herald
…The House budget is most friendly to GCSC upping its annual recurring funding by more than $750,000. Last year the school received $17.57 million from the “Community Colleges Program Fund” and $3.6 million from the “Educational Enhancement Trust Fund.”…

College president lays out long-term vision
The head of Florida Keys Community College came away from a March 18 Board of Trustees retreat in Marathon with a list of long-term goals for the institution.

Audit finds some finance problems at Keys college
Florida Keys Keynoter
Florida Keys Community College has four deficiencies, all related to bookkeeping, identified by the Florida Auditor General’s Office in a report released March 22. The annual financial audit covering the fiscal year that ended June 30 offers four “findings” that, taken as a whole, amount to one “significant deficiency.”

Studio Amped brings local bands to airwaves
Pensacola News Journal
Hotel Oscar has played plenty of Pensacola gigs before. The Destin four-piece rock band has jammed at Seville Quarter, World of Beer and other nightspots across town. But nothing like a recent gig at the WSRE-TV studio at Pensacola State College

Community reaches out to local veterans
Gainesville Sun
In a single afternoon, local veterans went searching for jobs, signed up for library cards, registered to vote, got information about enrolling at Santa Fe College and Saint Leo University and learned about what the area has to offer…

Student veterans observe 10th anniversary of Iraq invasion
Years after they’ve returned from combat, some Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom veterans are transitioning into civilian life at Santa Fe College.

SFSC presidential candidates to visit campuses
Highlands Today
The search for the next president of South Florida State College will get up close and personal with each of the four finalists vying for the position scheduled for two-day visits to the campuses for interviews and community, faculty and student forums. In addition to candidates’ interviews with the District Board of Trustees, the two-day schedule will provide each candidate opportunities to meet members of the community, SFSC students and college employees.

Independent Colleges and Universities

Author of NCAA report says nothing amiss
Yahoo! Sports
The man who looked into the NCAA’s botched investigation involving the University of Miami said Thursday he was aware multiple NCAA officials knew about the arrangement with Nevin Shapiro’s attorney during the improper collection of evidence and that the information was included in the report released last month…

Yip Yap: Noted and Quoted FLHE Voices from Around the Web

Three-tiered approach to diplomas would benefit grads
St. Augustine Record
State Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, has come up with an education proposal that makes a lot of sense and we hope gets enacted…

Florida students need relief from rising college costs
Daytona Beach News-Journal
Many college graduates like U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, are carrying the financial burden of paying off student loans into midlife.

Misunderstanding over FAU “Jesus stomping” assignment morphs into political gotcha
Miami Herald
A devout Mormon, was suspended from class by administrators for refusing to participate in the stomping assignment related to cultural signs…

Will FAU president’s letter change minds about $6 million GEO donation?
Palm Beach Post
The Post’s John Lantigua reports that FAU President Mary Jane Saunders has written an open letter praising the school’s accomplishments and urging campus unity in the midst of controversy about the school’s $6 million deal naming the football stadium for GEO Group, a private prison administration company…

FAU doesn’t understand the real issues
Palm Beach Post
As a concerned and committed faculty member of Florida Atlantic University, I want to address the negative publicity received by my workplace…Marina Karides is an associate professor of sociology at Florida Atlantic University’s Davie campus.

Florida Poly boondoggle
Palm Beach Post
As we predicted a year ago, the state’s unnecessary 12th university is going to cost far more than supporters claimed, and there will be little return on the investment. Gov. Rick Scott and the Legislature created Florida Polytechnic as a favor to former state Sen. J.D. Alexander. The man who controlled the Senate budget allegedly threatened to slash higher education spending if the Board of Governors, which runs the state university system, didn’t back his plan to separate the University of South Florida Polytechnic in Lakeland from the University of South Florida.

Letter: Motivation for 2014
Tampa Tribune
– Let’s make sure I have this right regarding Florida Poly Woly. Florida legislators (“Speaker: Poly can’t stand on its own,” front page, Feb. 27) suddenly realize the debacle they created “can’t stand on its own” and “needs a partner such as MIT.” The public officials who allowed “Boss Hog” (aka JD Alexander) to threaten, intimidate and run over them to create his “pet project” now suddenly see the light…Paul M. Terry – Lakeland

Ensley: A money pit with huge potential
Tallahassee Democrat
It was like watching a family drive into the car dealership, all excited about buying a new car. Then the salesman told them the price — and their faces fell. A new car was going to cost more than they ever dreamed. That’s the gut shot Florida State officials received Tuesday when consultants told them that the cost of renovating the Civic Center was at least $40 million. And if they wanted to do it right, it was more than $100 million.

Denton: Ripple effect of good journalism
Florida Times-Union
…Over almost a year of intense digging, Freedom of Information requests and hard-nose reporting by Adam Kealoha Causey and Kate Howard Perry and other T-U reporters, our readers learned about expense-account abuses, lavish employment contracts, incompetent administration and misrepresentations to students at Florida State College at Jacksonville. The resulting headlines were all but inevitable: Local and state investigations and audits began, President Steve Wallace negotiated his departure, two of his cabinet members found more graceful ways to leave, a sleepy board of directors was forced to engage, rules were implemented and systems were changed…

Let freedom tweet
Miami Herald
…What’s clear is that Ms. Sánchez does not shy away from telling us how she sees it. She is in Miami visiting her older sister, who arrived two years ago. On Monday she will meet with The Herald’s Editorial Board and receive freedom awards at Miami Dade College’s Freedom Tower and Florida International University

Letter: Florida must plan wisely for high-tech
Tallahassee Democrat
As a high-tech manufacturer in Florida, my company depends on top-quality science and engineering graduates. If Florida wants to attract more high-technology businesses, we must provide a steady, reliable workforce of high-quality technicians, scientists and engineers…ROBERT P. SCARINGE – President, Mainstream Engineering Corp. – Rockledge

Viewpoint: Chamber looking for more than call centers
Pensacola News Journal
…The Gulf Coast Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE), the incubator that the Chamber operates with Pensacola State College, is full and is producing fast-growing entrepreneurial companies with Vision 2015 support…

Physician: No back seat for women in sciences
Daytona Beach News-Journal
Daytona State College president Carol Eaton, left, and trustee Betty Holness chat with the keynote speaker, retired Maj. Gen. Polly A. Peyer, and honoree Dr. Pamela Carbiener, right, before the start of the Daytona State College Center for Women and Men annual luncheon on Thursday, March 28, 2013, in the Mori Hosseini Center…

Jackson selected as President of Southern Conference on African American Studies
Blog: Rattler Nation
David H. Jackson Jr., chair of Florida A&M University’s (FAMU) Department of History, Political Science, Public Administration, Geography and African American Studies, has been selected as president of the Southern Conference on African American Studies, Inc. (SCAASI) for 2013-2014…

Blind photographer at MDC inspires other students
Miami Herald
To capture the perfect scene with his point-and-shoot Olympus camera, Milton Young will touch the subject first, his long fingers feeling the contours and angles, the rough surfaces or the smooth façade. He will sniff the air for a familiar scent and turn his face to listen to the sound that echoes off the wall…

Sarasota tax reform forum panelists hoping for change
Bradenton Herald
But near the end, the host, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, injected a note of optimism when asked about the main obstacle to reform. “I think there’s a window of opportunity” to make a deal on the subject, he said during the forum in the Sainer Pavilion at New College of Florida

Rep. Buchanan optimistic about tax code reform
Sarasota Herald-Tribune
US. Rep. Vern Buchanan insists Congress is about to seriously tackle the issue of reforming the nation’s overly complex tax code. “It’s something we think there’s a window of opportunity in the next six months or so,” Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, told more than 100 people at a forum he organized on the New College of Florida campus…

Vern Buchanan hosts forum on tax reform
Congressman Vern Buchanan hosted a forum Friday on tax reform at New College of Florida.

Gun background check system has holes, but will expanding it save lives?
Palm Beach Post
William, the Palm Beach State College student, asked that his last name not be used. He hopes to get as much as $1,500 for his AK-47. William said the current background check system is full of holes, and assumes a buyer is guilty before being proven innocent. said the current background check system is full of holes, and assumes a buyer is guilty before being proven innocent…

Pensacola Christian College sues over website
Pensacola News Journal
Pensacola Christian College is suing a former student to regain control of a website the student used to criticize the college. In 2001, former student Peter Gage registered a website called that was used to criticize the college and its policies. The college tried unsuccessfully at that time to take the Pensacola Christian College domain name from Gage and since then has made repeated fruitless attempts to buy the site that has not been updated since 2003, according to its attorney, Jeffrey Lutz of Atlanta…

Polk’s Jobless Rate Falls to 8.3 Percent
The Ledger
The size of Polk’s labor force declined slightly in February, which amplified the decrease in unemployment and “implies that people have dropped out or become discouraged workers,” said Gordon Kettle, an economics professor at Polk State College. “Job growth has been firming, however … and layoffs continue to slow,” Kettle said. “Layoffs remain somewhat elevated, but the downward trend in these numbers is another favorable sign of improvement for the labor market.”

Stetson professor: New pope may focus on works more than beliefs
Daytona Beach News-Journal
For an in-depth look at Pope Francis’ impact on Christians and the values of charity, social justice and living modestly, The News-Journal contacted D. Gregory Sapp, a Stetson University professor with expertise in Christian beliefs…

Space expert Neil deGrasse Tyson is at UF Wednesday
Gainesville Sun
Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, often called the nation’s “go-to” science communicator, will bring his experience and passion to the University of Florida on Wednesday…

Bondi seeks exhumation of bodies at Dozier school campus
Orlando Sentinel (blog)
Anthropologists from the University of South Florida, with vocal support from U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., have uncovered the deaths of 98 boys between ages 6-18 in the years from 1914 through 1973…But probes last year by Dr. Erin Kimmerle and anthropology students from the University of South Florida found many more bodies and grave sites than FDLE had discovered — and Kimmerle has said she believes there are more…

Experts: ‘Rarest kind’ of sinkhole buried man under Florida home
Cover collapse sinkholes usually occur in areas where a layer of clay sits atop the Swiss cheese of limestone that lies beneath the ground in this part of the state, said University of South Florida geology professor Mark Stewart.

Releases and Web Stories

BOG Approves FAMU’s Corrective Action Plan
Press Release
TALLAHASSEE — In an important step for the State University System, the Board of Governors on Thursday approved a wide-ranging corrective action plan for Florida A&M University. The plan was developed by FAMU and Board of Governors staff to address issues of concern previously identified by the board. In the coming months, the two entities will work closely on improvements in areas of finances, audit and compliance, academics and anti-hazing policies. The plan comes as FAMU works to move off accreditation probation, imposed late last year by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools…