POLK COUNTY, Fla. - The multi-million dollar plans are impressive. The empty plot of land, not so much. But the build out for the new home of Florida Polytechnic University is still in the early stages, expected to open in the Fall of 2013.
With the progress, Florida is one step closer to seeing its 12th public university. What used to be a part of the University of South Florida will now be known as its own institution and by the current Board of Trustees' time table, Florida Polytechnic is heading for a target open date of Fall 2013.
Its a $100 million dollar project, some six years in the works, but now the dream of a new public university in the state is becoming a reality.
"Even in the throes of this very difficult recession, our university system is still growing two to three percent a year in terms of student enrollment," says Frank Brogan, Chancellor of the University System of Florida.
Chancellor Brogan says as Florida grows, higher education must expand as well. He and the Board of Trustees members took a bus tour Wednesday to see that expansion first hand.
"The needs are starting to outstrip our ability to supply the opportunity, so even in the throes of this tough economic period we have to we have to continue our growth," explained Chancellor Brogan.
As for the controversy that has swirled around this project since the premature planning stages, those questions about how the state could fund another public institution with such financial problems, Brogan had this to say.
"I think a lot of the controversies and a lot of the challenges are beginning to give way to opportunity and the possibilities Florida Polytechnic produces for all of us."
But what happens to those students that were already enrolled when the Polytechnic School was a stem of USF?
Well the Chancellor says throughout the next three years, there is a schedule for those students; there are about 1,000 of them. They will be able to continue their education under the USF umbrella and graduate from that university without any curriculum interruption.
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