University of Florida president Kent Fuchs was one of 11 university presidents to speak with Gov. Rick Scott and his cabinet in Tallahassee about increasing employment for recent graduates as part of a statewide initiative on Thursday.
Scott announced his “Ready, Set, Work” University Challenge in December, a plan for state-funded universities to attain 100 percent employment for recent graduates of each university’s top two programs within a year of graduating.
Scott encouraged all Florida universities to join the challenge by Jan. 12, the first day of the legislative session.
Fuchs talked about UF’s commitment to the “Ready, Set Work” University Challenge and the plan he wanted to take to achieve the goal.
“The University of Florida is 100 percent committed to doing four things that are important for our state’s economy for jobs, for the workforce and for the companies that are in our state currently,” Fuchs said.
The first of his initiatives is committing to provide students with a phenomenal education in areas of greatest need for companies in the state.
The second is faculty growth and dedicating more resources to current majors and increasing an online presence, Fuchs said.
The third is creating companies within the university, such as the biotech industry, he said. Several companies have already been started this way, including Verigo, a tracking company, which was started at UF in 2013 and worked out of the Innovation Hub for a time.
His final initiative is about a commitment to attracting new companies to the state. Fuchs said he was working with companies to design internships that meet labor needs.
“We are committed. We have the resources, the necessary facilities to do the things I just described,” Fuchs said. “We are here to bring benefit to the state; help the state solve its problems.”
Before Fuchs, John Thrasher, president of Florida State University, spoke.
Thrasher said he truly believes in the quality of education that the university provides. He said he was proud his grandson would be the third generation in his family to attend FSU.
Thrasher thanked the cabinet and the governor for their efforts and praised the program.
“We’re all in,” Thrasher said about the challenge.
At UF, students are equipped with the tools necessary to become professionals before they graduate. Among these professionals will be many in business and medicine.
“We have embraced the challenge to help our top two degree-granting areas – business and psychology – become fully employed,” said Janine Sikes, assistant vice president for media affairs at UF.
Sikes said UF is a great place to find advancements in the fields of science, technology, engineering and medicine, or STEM.
“We are committed to adding majors in these important STEM fields that offer students great opportunities while at the same time furthering the state’s goal of developing the robust economy,” Sikes said.