Florida’s Board of Governors is doubling down on expanding online education. And the state’s economists are warning of a sharp increase in state budget shortfalls coming soon.
So it’s quite possible that Florida State University is about to embark on its final teaching building project ever. And that last building has already been selected – it’s a new building for the College of Business.
When FSU makes its annual presentation to the Facilities Committee of the Board of Governors soon, it will present three projects. One will be the partially funded new building to house the Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science (EOAS). The second will be the renovation project for the university’s Student Union, which will be funded through the accumulation of many years of student fees. And the third (and perhaps last teaching building ever funded) will be a new building for the College of Business. The intention is to provide half the funding for this facility from taxpayer dollars, while the other half will be paid for by private donations.
The taxpayer-funded part of the new College of Business building will be something close to $50 million. That amount would easily fund a new 80,000 gross square foot teaching building for science, math and computing disciplines. Such a “STEM Teaching Laboratory”, which would provide the first significant update to the university’s science teaching infrastructure in thirty years and which has been contemplated for a decade, will probably never happen.
I could go on all day about what led to this misalignment of priorities. But what’s more important is this: The lack of new science teaching facilities will stuff whatever efforts are made to increase FSU’s capacity for educating undergraduates in engineering, science and computing disciplines. And the university will remain at the bottom of the SUS ranking in the critical (funding-related) metric for bachelors’ degrees in what the BOG calls “Areas of Strategic Emphasis”.