State Rewards UCF, USF and FIU Collaboration with $8.5 million in Grants

State Rewards UCF, USF and FIU Collaboration with $8.5 million in Grants

As part of an ambitious effort to align university and college degrees with the state’s workforce needs, Florida’s Board of Governors awarded $15 million in grants to four collaborative university projects today. A newly formed consortium of the University of Central Florida, University of South Florida and Florida International University led the way, receiving $8.5 million for two projects.

The Targeted Educational Attainment (TEAm) grants, funded by the Florida Legislature and approved by Gov. Rick Scott, are designed to produce more students for careers in the state’s highest-need areas, as identified by a Board of Governors analysis.

The awards mark a major accomplishment for UCF, USF and FIU, which will address education gaps in the areas of information technology and accounting. The consortium was granted:

  • $4.9 million for An Urban University Coalition Response to Florida Computer Information Technology Workforce Needs.
  • $3.6 million for An Innovative and Collaborative Approach to Increasing the Supply of Quality Accounting Graduates in Florida.

The universities, in three of Florida’s largest metropolitan areas and collectively serving about half of the students in the State University System, recently formed the Florida Consortium of Metropolitan Universities.

Through this consortium, the universities will share best practices, policies and programs to provide maximized career-readiness, particularly among under-represented and limited-income students. Examples include enhanced predictive analytics to better track students’ degree progress, more targeted support through mentors and advisors, and closer partnerships with local companies to open up more internship or practicum opportunities.

The universities will also explore ways to maximize efficiencies by sharing things such as software programs or student tracking systems to continue upward trends in student retention, completion and career placement.

The universities will use the shared knowledge gained in forming the consortium to tackle the projects funded through these TEAm grants.

“We’re proud the Board of Governors recognizes the potential of USF, UCF and FIU working together to help meet Florida’s most pressing workforce needs,” said USF President Judy Genshaft. “This is the first of many successful collaborative projects for this consortium.”

The TEAm awards follow more than 18 months of work by the Board of Governors’ Commission on Florida Higher Education Access and Attainment, a coalition of education, business and legislative leaders that identified the largest gaps between bachelor’s degree production and job needs. The effort marks an unprecedented level of collaboration between elected leaders, universities, state colleges and the business community.

“Providing opportunities for Florida’s students to compete in the global economy is critical to our future success as a state,” said House Speaker Will Weatherford. “The Florida Legislature was proud to provide support to the Board of Governors in its efforts to link our state universities to our workforce.”

Former Board of Governors chair Dean Colson, who launched the commission, said: “This is just one great example of how our institutions are responding to the job needs of our state. Florida is a national leader in that regard, as evidenced by the strength of the proposals that won these prestigious awards.”

“Aligning university and college degrees with the state’s workforce needs will help foster a talent-supply pipeline focused on Florida’s future,” said David Hart, executive vice president of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “This will provide greater opportunities for job creators to successfully compete in a global marketplace, and greater opportunities for Florida families.”

The additional grant recipients are:

  • Florida State University and Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, which will receive a combined $3 million for Expanding North Florida’s IT Career Pathways.
  • Florida Atlantic University, Broward College and Palm Beach State College, which will receive a combined $3.5 million for a Computer Accelerated Pipeline to Unlock Regional Excellence.

The grant recipients must spend the funds by the end of the 2014-2015 academic year. They also must submit semi-annual reports to document outcomes, including the number of graduates entering the high-demand fields.

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Facts about the State University System of Florida and the Board of Governors

The State University System of Florida is a constitutional body led by the 17-member Board of Governors. The system has 12 universities and more than 335,000 students, making it the second-largest public university system in the nation. Responsibilities include defining the distinctive mission of each institution and managing the system’s coordination and operation. The Board appoints a Chancellor who serves as the system’s chief executive. For more, visit www.flbog.edu.