Florida’s Board of Governors discuss post-graduate needs and budget approvals

Florida business leaders stress the importance of real-world experience before entering the workforce


Photo by Alex Liscio.

Kayla Ortiz, Political Reporter

On Sept. 1, the State University System of Florida’s Board of Governors met at Florida International University to hold committee meetings and discuss academic and workforce alignment. 

Discussions focused on how to positively prepare students for post-graduate life, approval of the 2021-2022 operating budget, and approval of the 2022-2023 legislative budget request.

Florida’s Board of Governors meets every two months, the previous meeting taking place June 23. The members’ terms are seven years long and supervise the operations and management of Florida’s public universities.  

The board has 17 members, 14 of whom are appointed by Republican Gov. Ron Desantis and confirmed by the Florida Senate. 

The other seats include the Chair of the Advisory Council of Faculty Senates, the Commissioner of Education, and the Chair of the Florida Student Association.

FAU is one of 12 schools included in the State University System.

Last Wednesday at 8:30 a.m., the Task Force on Academic and Workforce Alignment Committee began with a call to order by board member Gov. Eric Silagy to discuss clean energy technology and ways to aid graduates professionally with Florida’s business leaders José Mas, Melissa Miller, and Dylan Reeves. 

Gov. Silagy asked Jose Mas, the chief executive officer of MasTec, Inc., what he as a business leader looks for from his students and future employees in today’s world. 

“One of the big challenges I see for kids coming out of universities and schools is the lack of experience that they have,” said Mas.

Some of the issues graduates are experiencing when entering the workforce after obtaining their degrees from Florida universities are public speaking skills, 

“I think that one of the things that we all need to strive to do better at is to try to give them more real-world experience prior to graduation,” said Mas.

Mas also explains that having little experience in one’s professional field disadvantages the young people exiting school, stating that private businesses should work to collaborate with universities to prepare students. 

“We get caught in a structure and we get caught in doing the same thing the same way for so long that even though the world around us has changed, nobody else has changed with it,” said Mas. 

Melissa Miller, senior director at NextEra Energy said, “students need a lot of help with some of the basic skills.” 

Miller explained that students need to know how to present, sell and adapt themselves to their workplace and employers to keep them engaged, and be prepared for future endeavors in their careers. 

“Education is ongoing. It doesn’t stop with their degree,” Miller said. “They learn who they are, they learn about careers and they’ll be back to try to develop that next opportunity.”

These business owners presented the 2021 executive summary of Clean Energy & Technology in the State University System of Florida public universities to acknowledge the increase in degree productivity in clean energy and technology within recent years. 

All 12 Florida State University System schools offer degree programs that align with clean energy. Programs offered include environmental science, engineering, and sustainability studies. 

The summary stated in the years 2019-2020, the State University System produced over 16,000 graduates who could enter into the clean energy career path.

Within the summary, emphasis is placed on the U.S. News & World Report ranking FAU #98 Best Graduate School Engineering Specialty for Environmental Health Engineering as well as its Southeast National Marine Renewable Energy Center (SNMREC) and the research opportunities.

The center studies ocean currents and thermal energy technological advancements and gives both graduate and undergraduate students opportunities to learn and research. 

The summary also acknowledged that FAU’s SNMREC has invested in 150 research projects in the field of clean energy and technology. 

“Our goal is to figure out the best way to allocate resources so that we can connect with the business community to help our students who graduate from a Florida school to live productive lives, have great jobs, and be successful,” board member and CEO of Foundation Risk Partners Charles H. Lydecker said. 

Following the Task Force on Academic and Workforce Alignment Committee meeting, the Budget and Finance Committee met and approved the 2021-2022 operating budget and the 2022-2023 legislative budget request.

At 10:15 a.m., Gov. Brian Lamb called the meeting to order to begin with the approval of 2021-2022 operating and general office budget. 

According to Lamb, board regulation 9.007 requires the committee to review and approve the university operating budget created by the board of trustees and their administration.

The State University System requires each University to submit detailed budgeting plans every fiscal year consisting of subsections: 1) Education and General, 2) Contracts and Grants, 3) Auxiliary Enterprises, 4) Local Funds, and 5) Faculty Practice Plans.

For more information, linked above FAU’s budget can be found on pages 13 and 14 of the operating budget summary.

 After the 2021-2022 operating and general office budgets were approved, the 2022-2023 legislative budget request was presented by Tim Jones, as it was due for submission on Sept.15.

“Our LBR [Legislative Budget Request] will focus on obviously the three traditional components that we believe still make great business sense,” said Gov. Lamb, “Performance-based funding is a big piece of that. We’re going to stay committed to what has been almost been a 10-year strategy for the state university system.”

Performance-based funding is based on the retention and graduation rates as well as degree production and affordability. 

As stated in the LBR, statewide graduation rates have increased overall by 4% due to performance-based funding. FAU’s graduation rates notably increased 11%, from 37% to 48%.

Lamb also elaborated on pre-eminent national ranking and universities of distinction as two important factors to consider when creating the legislative budget. 

“We use those dollars to improve our metrics,” Jones states. “They built career centers, undergraduate programs, and student services.”

In conjunction with the presentation, Jones explained the request for the same amount as previous years’ usage of $265M and an additional $15M to aid university metrics for a total of $280M for state-specific investment. 

$295M will account for the institutional investments within the total budget request of $5,544,426,034 for the 2022-2023 fiscal year. 

Kayla Ortiz is a Political Reporter for the University Press. For information regarding this story, email her at [email protected]