Education

New College of Florida hopes improvements will restore funding

SARASOTA -- When Donal O'Shea became New College of Florida's fifth president in 2012, he made it his priority to create better links between the liberal arts education students receive and their future careers.

Last fall, the college's Center for Engagement and Opportunity opened on the Sarasota campus to help to improve this translation of the liberal arts degree into post-graduation careers.

New College of Florida saw a 5 percent decline in the number of its graduates employed and/or continuing their education further one year after graduation from the previous year, which contributed to putting the college at risk for losing more than $1 million of its funding. The State University System Board of Governors is withholding $1,080,377 from New College of Florida -- $645,594 of its base funds and $434,783 of its performance funds.

Since New College did not score high enough in the Performance Funding Model, the school was not eligible to initially have a portion of its base funding restored and was not allocated any of the $100 million new funds in 2014-15.

But the college is hoping that its recent improvements in career services programs will impress the Board of Governors to restore its baseline funding.

"This is not just a response to the Board of Governors," New College spokesman David Gulliver said. "We also believe this is a priority."

On Thursday, the Board

of Governors will review the college's monitoring report and determine if satisfactory progress has been made. If it has, New College could receive up to 50 percent of its $1,080,377 back. In June, the board will review the final monitoring report to determine if the improvement plan was successfully implemented. If it has, then the remaining funds being held would be released to New College.

The board is saving its discussion about the three universities with funds withheld -- New College of Florida, Florida Atlantic University and University of West Florida -- and any possible improvements on the metrics for Thursday.

The Board of Governors evaluates schools in the State University System on 10 metrics in its Performance Funding Model, and schools receive points for how well they met the metric. If a school receives less than 26 points, they are at risk of losing their funding.

New College of Florida received zero points in two metrics, causing the college to receive 25 points. The two metrics are the percent of bachelor's graduates employed and/or continuing their education further one year after graduation, and average cost per undergraduate degree to the institution.

Last May, New College of Florida developed an improvement plan, outlining specific initiatives that they will do during the 2014-15 fiscal year.

"We are really pleased with our improvements since the first assessment," Gulliver said. "We can't predict whether the Board of Governors will be satisfied or not, but we are hopeful that they are going to be equally pleased and begin to restore the funding that was withheld.

Claire Aronson, University Parkway/Sarasota reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024 or at caronson@bradenton.com. Follow her on Twitter @Claire_Aronson.

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