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Faculty union wants diversity in reopening plans for universities, colleges


Faculty union wants diverse voices heard in reopening plans for universities, colleges

Byron Dobson
Tallahassee Democrat
Published 8:00 PM EDT May 21, 2020

The United Faculty of Florida (UFF) wants to ensure diverse voices are heard as state leaders move forward with plans to reopen public universities and colleges this fall.

To that extent, the organization has assembled a diverse cross-section of students, parents, health experts and professors to come up with suggestions it plans to present June 1. A similar panel has been formed to address K-12 education in the state.

UFF represents over 20,000 faculty members at all 12 Florida public universities, at 14 state and community colleges, and at the private Saint Leo University in Pasco County. 

Members of the task force addressing state colleges and universities include:

Karen Morian, president, United Faculty of Florida

“Higher education is a driver in our economy. We want to do it right,” said Karen Morian, a humanities professor at Florida State and president of United Faculty of Florida. “We want it to be successful.”

Morian said while the State University System Board of Governors and the Office of the Governor have created their own task forces, primarily including business leaders, it is important that the voices of parents, students and faculty also are heard.

More: Florida Board of Governors to hear plans to reopen universities at May 28 meeting

Morian is assigning members to five different committees to come up with proposals of their own, along with national reports on returning this fall. The categories include student success, social and emotional well-being, public health and safety, working conditions and financial investment. 

Rep. Carlos Guillermo-Smith speaks in opposition to HB 265, which would require parental consent for abortion, during debate of the bill on the House floor at the Capitol Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020.
Tori Lynn Schneider/Florida Today

The group said it is important their voice is included as Gov. Ron DeSantis begins to consider the state’s budget for next year and how higher education will fare in what is expected to cuts in spending already approved by the Legislature.

“There are so many priorities,” Smith said. “… I think equity is important. We have to understand this is not going to impact every student and faculty in the same way.”

FAMU’s Williams, for example, said he feels it is important that student concerns at HBCUs are considered. And their health concerns especially need to be a top priority.

“Hopefully, as the schools roll out their plans, this (report) will be a part of it,” Morian said.

More: State university panel chair says focus will be on safety in reopening campuses

Contact senior writer Byron Dobson at or on Twitter @byrondobson.

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This content was originally published here.

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