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December 19, 2001

CONTACT: Lauren Cain
Director of Communications

University Presidents Oppose Graham Amendment

The following statement is being issued by Florida Atlantic University President Anthony James Catanese on behalf of the State University Presidents Association. Press contacts are Bob Nichols and Lynn Laurenti, (561) 297-3020.

The State University Presidents Association wishes to go on record as opposing U.S. Senator Bob Graham's initiative to restore the Board of Regents (renamed the Board of Governors) through an amendment to the Florida Constitution. Our state's public universities have just completed the transition to the Board of Trustees form of governance, and we want that system to be given an opportunity to work. Each of the 11 universities is now being served by a truly outstanding group of public-spirited men and women, and we believe they will do an excellent job of guiding the institutions into the future.

The pressing need now is not for a return to the Regents form of governance but for an accelerated transfer of full policy-making powers to the Trustees. The university presidents unanimously urge the Florida Legislature to speed up the process of investing those powers in the Trustees in order to give them the tools they must have to succeed.

An equally important need and one that has historically not been met in our state is for adequate funding for higher education. The universities should be valued as the engines of economic development that they are, and the level of funding they receive should be reflective of that.

While we enormously respect Senator Graham's commitment to higher education, we believe he is putting time and energy into the wrong course of action. The future of higher education in Florida relies much more upon funding than governance. No system of governance can succeed if the dollars are not there to make it work.

Anthony James Catanese
President, State University Presidents Association
President and Professor, Florida Atlantic University