Florida, Florida, Florida Follow-Up
The Florida State Board of Governors have put a halt on the proposed development of the FGCU satellite campus, which is summed up in this article.
In fact, the board's action actually signals a change in direction, both FGCU President Bill Merwin and several Charlotte County commissioners said Friday.
In the future, it won't be up to FGCU but the county to negotiate a deal, Merwin said Friday.
His comments came a day after the state board shot down FGCU's proposed deal to build a 150-acre campus amid a 2,400-acre ranch owned by Hudson Sun-River. The site is located off U.S. 17 at the DeSoto County line.
The university board expressed a concern that the magnitude of the developer's offer, worth some $70 million in land, cash and utility commitments, would obligate the state to designate the site a "branch campus" instead of a more modest "satellite center."
The state board has recently begun working to increase its role in determining where branch campuses for both universities and colleges should be located, Merwin said.
"In a nutshell, they didn't want a developer setting policy for the board of governors," Merwin said.
I applaud the Board of Governors for their decision. That a university becomes a part of a development proposal (as an enhanced amenity, as it were, almost as good as a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course) is more than unseemly. What is frustrating for me is that my university has continued to seek expansion in undeveloped wetlands or panther habitat, rather than in the hearts of existing communities (other than its Naples Center).
It's not that I have ultimate faith in the Charlotte County Commissioners; they'll very likely make an equally short-sighted decision. But at least the Board of Governors formally recognized that policy for university development shouldn't be in the hands of those whose interest is purely financial.
P.S. I appreciate the comments I received from my earlier posting. I did receive some anonymous ones (which I routinely delete), expressing concern about my speaking out and jeopardizing my situation at my university. My complaint here has been about this specific university policy and practice. Let me say here that I do believe President Merwin's motivations are fine, to establish greater access for higher education, and he has done a tremendous job of making that so.
If I suffer from Florida-hate, little of it is job-related, but more about the larger degradation to the South Florida landscape. I realize that the most moral answer is for me to leave, to not be yet another contributor to the very problem that gives me such pain. Ah, but where to go where that is not so? To live off the grid in Vermont as my libertarian-spirited student has heroically chosen? To become Ellison's invisible man? The remedy for me, at least, as quaint and impotent as it may seem, is poetry. That and to shout out when I can, as I can.