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USF Campus In Lakeland Edges Closer To New Name


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By Rick Rousos

The Ledger

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LAKELAND | The future University of South Florida Lakeland campus has taken a step closer to being named USF Polytechnic. But school officials are more concerned about money than the new moniker.

The $200 million campus is planned at the southwest corner of Interstate 4 and the Polk Parkway.

But Gov. Charlie Crist earlier this year vetoed $10 million the Legislature approved to start construction on the 16,000-student campus.

"We're hoping the second time around is a charm," said Marshall Goodman, the USF Lakeland campus CEO.

If the $10 million isn't restored, the hope to begin construction soon and open the campus by late 2010 will have to be pushed back.

The USF board of trustees in Tampa has approved the Lakeland branch school's strategic plan, which calls for the campus to be polytechnic.

Both the USF board and the state board of governors must approve of the new name, which could take several months. Polytechnic means what it sounds like, a devotion to technical arts and applied sciences.

In Goodman's view, a polytechnic university is a niche school that will draw students from all over Florida - "and why not Georgia, too?" - to its dormitories.

The campus will be big in computer science, engineering, manufacturing, technical writing and teaching.

Students will be expected to do internships at local technology-based businesses.

The classrooms won't be the traditional lecture halls. They'll consist of tables and chairs with wheels that can be rearranged depending upon what is being taught.

"It won't be a sage on the stage, it will be a guide on the side," Goodman said.

There won't be a philosophy department. When he talks with business leaders, Goodman said, "they don't say, 'Marshall, we need more philosophers.'"

Goodman said he has encountered no resistance from USF officials in Tampa that the polytechnic school will draw students away from other USF locations.

But what the polytechnic campus will do, Goodman said, is prepare students to enter the modern work world with skills that employers can use.

He figures that's worth the cost to build USF Polytechnic.

[ Rick Rousos can be reached at rick.rousos@theledger.com or 863-802-7516. ]

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