Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Jeb Bush Denied Honorary Degree by UF so Loyal Bushies Try for a College

UF college could be named for Jeb Bush
April 11. 2007 6:01AM

TALLAHASSEE By LLOYD DUNKELBERGER and JACK STRIPLING write in the Gainesville Sun- The University of Florida's faculty may have denied former Gov. Jeb Bush an honorary degree, but his political allies in the state House of Representatives have found another way to honor the former governor on the school's Gainesville campus.The House Schools and Learning Council voted Tuesday to name UF's College of Education the "Jeb Bush College of Education.''

The amendment came from Rep. David Rivera, R-Miami, who admitted he was irked by the faculty's decision last month to deny Bush the honorary degree.

"This amendment may demonstrate to some folks around the state and around the country that the office of the governor of Florida is a very prestigious and honorable office and is certainly deserving of an honorary degree,'' Rivera said.
"Some may take it as a message,'' he added. "But more importantly it's an appropriate recognition of a distinguished governor's accomplishments in the field of education.''
Rivera said he hadn't talked to Bush about his move, which came as an amendment to a bill (HB 621) naming buildings and facilities in the statewide university system after donors and supporters. Rivera said the honor was appropriate given that Bush made education reforms a centerpiece of his eight-year administration.

But some of Bush's reforms were controversial, including the use of publicly funded vouchers to send students to private schools and the heavy emphasis on the FCAT as a means of rewarding or punishing schools and students.

Following the 38-28 vote by the UF Faculty Senate to deny Bush the honorary degree, some UF faculty members criticized Bush for his lack of support for higher education and some of his policies, including "One Florida'' which ended the use of racial preferences for university admissions.........

"While Gov. Bush appreciates the gesture, he believes public service is an honor in and of itself and naming a building, road or program after an elected official will diminish that service,''
Patricia Levesque, executive director of the governor's Foundation for Florida's Future, said in a statement. "Additionally, the most appropriate time to name something after an elected official is after their passing.''

Rivera, though, said he is not ready to back off his proposal.

He also said he wasn't surprised by Bush's response.

"He is a humble individual," Rivera said. "But he's very deserving of the honor.''...

....The Legislature is empowered to name anything on campus that it desires, Orlando said, but no one at UF could recall a naming happening on campus that wasn't first proposed by the university.

Danaya Wright, chair of UF's Faculty Senate, said it would be appropriate for the Legislature to seek input from university stakeholders before naming a college for anyone.