St. Weatherford: State’s 13th university should be online only

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If Florida is going to open a 13th state university, it ought to be one that’s focused entirely on delivering online courses, Rep. Will Weatherford said Tuesday. In an interview with WFLA Radio in Tallahassee via the News Service of Florida, Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, who is in line to be the next House speaker, said he was asking the state university system Board of Governors to study the issue. With more and more students studying online, it makes sense financially to create a virtual university, Weatherford said. “You don’t have to build dorms, you don’t have to build a football stadium,” he said, noting that more and more college and university students now are non-traditional students who don’t live on campus and aren’t caught up in the traditional campus-based student lifestyle. “I’m not telling the Board of Governors to do this, I’m asking them to study it,” Weatherford said. “If the numbers don’t work, we’ll walk away.” Weatherford brought up the idea at the recent BOG meeting – and he was partly homeschooled himself, so he has an interest in alternative styles of education. Last year, about half the state’s college students took at least one online class, several of which are already offered by some of the state’s existing traditional universities.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.