Thursday, June 21, 2012

FAMU should be able to expand doctoral programs despite graduation rate, just like FAU

Yesterday, a number of members of the Florida Board of Governors (BOG) attacked FAMU’s doctoral program ambitions with a lame argument that didn’t stop Florida Atlantic University’s (FAU) doctoral expansion efforts.

According to the Orlando Sentinel: “Some members of the Board of Governors suggested to FAMU President James Ammons that he focus on helping undergraduate students get through school before he continues expanding FAMU's graduate and doctoral programs.”

FAMU currently has a 39.3 percent six-year graduation rate.

Frank Brogan, the current chancellor of the State University System of Florida (SUS), served as the president of FAU from 2003 until 2009. The university’s six-year graduation remained below 40 percent during his entire presidency. But that didn’t stop him from aggressively expanding FAU’s research programs and building the foundation for the university’s current medical school.

When Brogan came to FAU in 2003, the university had a partnership with the Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami (UM). In 2005, Brogan received BOG approval to expand the two-year partnership program into a four-year program that permitted FAU students to earn UM undergraduate medical degrees without leaving their Bacon Raton home campus.

Once Brogan became chancellor, he used his position to finish the job of working toward an FAU medical school. He supported FAU”s proposal to establish an independent College of Medicine, which the BOG approved on April 7, 2010.

If it was okay for FAU to want a medical school when its six-year graduation rate was below 40 percent, it’s also okay for FAMU to want a dental school.

Even though FAMU’s six-year graduation rate needs work, the latest data from the online SUS Fact Books shows that the university is making progress toward improving it. Ammons has reversed FAMU’s ten-year slump in lower division course load averages. Not only are course loads up, but FAMU’s lower division students (those with fewer than 60 credit hours) are now taking higher course loads than their peers at the University of Florida (UF).

FAMU beat UF’s lower division course load average in Fall 2008, Fall 2009, and Fall 2010. That has set FAMU on the right track to higher six-year graduation rate.

If the BOG thinks that an ex-FAU president whose six-year graduation rate numbers never reached 40 percent is the best qualified person to lead the SUS, then it has no grounds to bash FAMU’s current 39.3 percent six-year graduation rate.

FAU's Six-Year Graduation Rate Under Frank Brogan

2003: 35.3
2004: 36.6
2005: 36.8
2006: 36.9
2007: 37.9
2008: 39.4
2009: 38.4

Source: College Results Online by The Education Trust

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