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United Faculty of Florida slams Rick Scott’s Degrees to Jobs Summit

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Florida’s college faculty union is taking a jab at Gov. Rick Scott’s “Degrees to Jobs” Summit.

The United Faculty of Florida wasn’t invited to the event, which takes place Wednesday and Thursday in Orlando. It issued a statement on Tuesday.

The mission of the summit is to “bring together Florida business leaders and education officials to better connect Florida students with meaningful jobs when they graduate.”

But the UFF called the summit “problematic” because “the mission of higher education is much more than just jobs.”

Higher education “is about developing educated, well-rounded citizens and future leaders who are able to communicate and write effectively, think critically, and solve problems — skills that are also important criteria for those who do the hiring,” the union’s statement said.

“If Gov. Scott is serious about improving higher education, then he would have a real summit that includes our faculty members, who are critical stakeholders in any discussion of higher education and higher education curriculum,” it added.

“Unfortunately, no faculty members are listed in the agenda for the summit, which is incredibly problematic as we are in the classrooms and in the labs teaching these future leaders the skills necessary to succeed, and we serve as mentors and as references for our students when they apply for jobs,” the statement said.

In response, Scott’s office released a statement that the summit “is bringing together hundreds of stakeholders, including board of trustees and college and university presidents, to discuss how Florida’s higher education system can ready students for success.”

The governor “believes our higher education system must be solely focused on preparing grads to get jobs in high-demand fields when they graduate,” said McKinley P. Lewis, Scott’s deputy communications director.

UFF says it represents more than 22,000 faculty members at 21 of Florida’s universities and colleges.

Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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