As the House considers merging New College of Florida into Florida State University, House Speaker Jose Oliva said late Thursday he is open to considering the idea of folding the liberal arts college into the University of South Florida.
Gov. Ron DeSantis was the first official to publicly float the possibility that New College and the University of South Florida would make a better fit geographically.
New College’s Sarasota campus is 57 miles from USF in Tampa and 321 miles from Florida State’s campus in Tallahassee. “I am open to the University of South Florida as well,” Oliva told reporters. The potential of merging New College into another institution has drawn protests from students, faculty and alumni.
But Oliva said the proposal would save money for the state and ensure students can continue to go to a university that would offer them a “benefit.” The House is also proposing folding Florida Polytechnic University into the University of Florida.
“I don’t feel that those students would in any way suffer a loss. Is it a disruption? Without a doubt. But the amount of monies that are being spent on those two institutions are entirely unjustifiable, and it is our duty to look at things like that,” Oliva said.
The House proposal (HB 7087) is likely to be considered by the Appropriations Committee next week, according to Rep. Travis Cummings, a Fleming Island Republican who chairs the committee.