The St. Petersburg Times has a highly troubling story on the how many faculty fear voicing their opinion on a chiropractic school at FSU. Hopefully no faculty member fears for his/her job. FSU's administration pretends to be surprised by this, but in fact the administration has subtly hinted that money will not be available for chemistry, biology and psychology buildings if FSU does not go forward with its plans. Faculty also fear that their departments may face givebacks, and lose the opportunity to hire new faculty. Unfortunately, the convergence of a weak academic administration at FSU and the political climate in Tallahassee (in which state legislators has accused critics of "bigotry" and have promised to go to war) gives this threat some credibility, but many faculty have courageously called for some discussion of the merits of the chiropractic proposal.
Senator King denies that he is vindictive but has indicated (through the press) to faculty that the "Legislature will be angry" and that they should "evaluate with their department heads what kind of cuts there will have to be." Here is classic quote:
"Would I be disappointed? Yes," King said. "Am I going to be vindictive? No."
He added: "I'm a Scorpio. I'm much more subtle than that."
Now we are appealing to astrology, as well as raw politics? The irony could not be deeper.
Meanwhile, as to the merits, a Tampa Tribune story hints that the Board of Governors Report on the Chiropractic proposal will not be all favorable. In 2002, Florida spent $500,000 of taxpayer money on a study finding a need for a chiropractic school, but the Board of Governor's reports finds no shortage of chiropractors in the state. Also, the story reports, Carolyn Roberts, the Board of Governors' chairwoman is
concerned a chiropractic school could damage FSU's research standing. ``I'd like to know how this fits into a research institution,'' Roberts said.
The answer is easy: It doesn't. The BOG should carefully evaluate the specious claims FSU's report (prepared by an outside chiropractic consultant) makes about the research dollars this would bring. Under a best case scenario, it would probably not constitute more than 2-5% of FSU's outside research dollars (probably in the range of $1-5 million annually, at its very best). This is not a terrible return on investment and there is a serious question as to whether this is where FSU has a comparative advantage in expanding its research.
FSUblius thinks that Howard Troxler, a St. Petersburg Times columnist, has three excellent points in an essay he published this morning: This decision has nothing to do with science and everything to do with politics, it is highly embarrassing to FSU and the state of Florida, and FSU's faculty and BOT, as well as the BOG, need to do something about it. Let's leave this chapter behind us and get down to business in making progress with FSU's academic and scientific programs.