FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
June 6, 2013CONTACTS:
Valerie Wickboldt / 850.386.3131
VP of Communications
The James Madison InstituteDaniel Burnett / 202.467.6787
Press Secretary
American Council of Trustees and AlumniFLORIDA PUBLIC HIGHER EDUCATION ‘A MODEL FOR THE NATION’ ON AFFORDABILITY, REPORT SAYS
~ Florida Rising charts the challenges and decisions ahead on issues affecting student success and cost control ~TALLAHASSEE, Fla./WASHINGTON, D.C., — A new report on higher education released by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) and The James Madison Institute (JMI) finds Florida has boldly addressed issues of cost-effectiveness and has set a high standard for transparency and accountability, but difficult decisions must be made in order for the Sunshine State to weather storms ahead.“Florida Rising: An Assessment of Public Universities in the Sunshine State,” is the 11th in a series of state report cards from ACTA. It examines issues of cost, speech codes, administrative vs. academic spending, core curriculum, and graduation rates at Florida’s 11 public universities.“Florida higher education is a model for the nation in keeping tuition affordable and focusing attention on improving graduation rates,” said Anne D. Neal, ACTA president. “However, gaps in their core curriculum, steep athletic spending, and restrictive speech codes show that continuing Florida’s upward course will need strong and active leadership from governing boards.”The report also examines Florida’s performance against national averages and provides Florida’s public university governing boards with recommendations to improve the outcomes of each public institution for the benefit of students and taxpayers.“JMI’s goal in helping with this report is to bring to light the necessity for reflective assessment of all facets of the public university system in order to measure effectiveness and achieve best ‘bang-for-buck,’” said Dr. Robert McClure, III, JMI president and CEO. “ACTA’s thoughtful recommendations add value to the debates about how Florida can truly rise to the top in higher education.”ACTA’s recommendations include:

Assess student learning and reward institutions for performance – The BOG can use performance based funding to encourage full use of assessments and to reward institutions that meet appropriate benchmarks for student learning gains.
Require coursework in the history and institutions of America among general education requirements to ensure graduates are ready for engaged, effective citizenship.
Build upon the excellent clarity and effective presentation of the Accountability Report by adding key metrics including grade distribution, classroom and laboratory utilization, and average number of classes taught per term by tenured and tenured-track faculty.
Implement requirements for intermediate foreign language proficiency and for basic economics, both of which are necessities in a dynamic marketplace and increasingly global community.
Eliminate speech codes that violate Constitutionally-protected free expression to enhance and protect intellectual diversity and academic freedom on all System campuses.

“We are extremely gratified that this report distinguishes our system as a national leader in higher education. Following years of budgetary constraints, our universities have emerged stronger and more focused than ever and are making great strides toward national prominence,” said State University System Chancellor Frank T. Brogan. “This report validates the Board of Governors’ priorities of improving student success, enhancing online learning, and balancing access, quality and affordability—all of which contribute to my long-stated goal of ensuring Florida has the most accountable university system in America.”The story of Florida’s public universities has particular importance for higher education in other states, the report says. If they continue to be successful, Florida’s proactive initiatives to maximize both access and academic quality will represent a key example for other states to follow and a new standard for cost-effectiveness in higher education.“Like many institutions of higher education, the System’s primary challenges include limiting unnecessary growth, maximizing use of existing resources, and learning how best to leverage emerging opportunities such as distance education,” said Dr. Michael Poliakoff, ACTA vice president of policy. “Floridians have a lot to be proud of when it comes to their universities, and their governing boards have made a number of wise decisions in recent years. By addressing critical issues now, Floridians can ensure that their graduates are as prepared as possible to face life after graduation with as little debt—and as much skill and knowledge—as possible.”For more information on ACTA and JMI, visit www.goacta.org and www.jamesmadison.org respectively.# # #About ACTA: The American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America’s colleges and universities. For further information, visit www.goacta.org. Twitter: @goACTA – Facebook: facebook.com/GoACTAAbout JMI: Founded in 1987, The James Madison Institute (JMI) is Florida’s oldest and largest nonpartisan, nonprofit, public policy research and education organizations. JMI is dedicated to advancing such ideals as economic freedom, limited government, federalism, traditional values, the rule of law, and individual liberty coupled with individual responsibility. All JMI publications are available online at www.jamesmadison.org. Twitter: @JmsMadisonInst – Facebook: facebook.com/JamesMadisonInstitute