Rick Scott's University Reform: Watch Out Tenured Professors and Liberal Arts Majors

Gov. Rick Scott's latest target for major reforms: the state's university system. It's not like his concerns are without merit. The state could use more students majoring in things like engineering and science. And, yes, it would be nice if more classes were taught by actual professors and not graduate assistants. But in true Rick Scott style, he's causing needless controversy and looking at the cheapest, perhaps not the best, way to fix the problems.

Scott wants to shift more funding to programs like science, technology, engineering and math departments (AKA the "STEM" majors), but that funding may come with cuts to liberal arts programs according to The Gainseville Sun.

For whatever reason Scott seems to have a particular target on the back of anthropology majors.

"Is it a vital interest of the state to have more anthropologists? I don't think so," Scott told the media on Monday.

"It's a great degree if people want to get it. But we don't need them here," he elaborated on a Daytona Beach radio show.

You hear that Margaret Mead? Stay out.

"I want to spend our money getting people science, technology, engineering and math degrees. That's what our kids need to focus all of their time and attention on: Those type of degrees that when they get out of school, they can get a job."

Too bad. I'm sure some anthropologist would have a field day studying the unique form of humanity we seem to display in the Sunshine State.

Scott doesn't seem poised to increase funding for universities however, and not everyone is amped about the idea of taking away money from liberal arts programs to pay for STEM programs either.

"We do not want to, and don't intend to, rob Peter to pay Paul," says Board of Governors spokeswoman Kelly Layman.

Perhaps more controversial, Scott is also looking at ways to reform the tenure system for university professors. It's an idea he picked up from Texas Gov. Rick Perry, though not even Texas has done away with tenure. According to the Sun, Perry's "Seven Solutions program boosts rewards for the best teachers and advocates tougher faculty evaluations that incorporate more student input."

Scott wants professors spending more time in the classroom teaching and less time pumping out research.

"It's sheer and utter nonsense," says former University of Florida President Charles E. Young. "They have a total lack of understanding about what a university is and what universities do."

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