Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Higher Education Presidents Agree They're 'In This Together'; Each of the Four Schools Has Its Own Focus, So There Isn't Competition

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Higher Education Presidents Agree They're 'In This Together'; Each of the Four Schools Has Its Own Focus, So There Isn't Competition

Article excerpt

Byline: MATT COLEMAN

The four biggest names in Jacksonville's higher education community are in agreement. They can't go it alone.

"We're in this together," Florida State College at Jacksonville President Steven Wallace said Thursday in front of a packed auditorium at the school's South campus. "Educating Northeast Florida takes a team effort, and that's why we're here today."

Wallace was joined by University of North Florida President John Delaney, Jacksonville University President Kerry Romesburg, and Edward Waters College Interim President Nat Glover for a lively discussion about the regional future of higher education.

A major discussion topic was the Jacksonville Commitment, a scholarship program spearheaded by Glover three years ago that is designed to take students from poverty to a college degree without incurring student loans. The city has injected about $1.8 million into the program over the last two years - enough money for about 200 students a year.

It's also funded through private support raised by the schools. Since the start of Commitment, FSCJ has pledged about $1,000 for 100 of the students per year.

Wallace said he views the program as a game-changer for the city, a segue to him announcing FSCJ was going to boost its annual gift to about $3,000 per student. He also said the there wouldn't be a cap on the number of students who qualify for the increased aid.

"Access is the key here," he said. "It doesn't matter the school they choose. We want them staying in Jacksonville for college."

It's a point that was reiterated throughout the discussion. The presidents lauded the beneficial and sometimes symbiotic relationships they've fostered with their regional counterparts.

Most FSCJ students who graduate with a two-year degree transfer to UNF to pursue their bachelor's degree. FSCJ and JU have been discussing a joint program in aviation. And Glover served as a special adviser to Delaney before taking the reins at Edward Waters.

The panel's consensus was that Jacksonville is big enough for the four of them. …

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