Ava L. Parker, chair of the Board of Governors of the State University System of Florida, attended the recent Black Enterprise Pepsi Golf and Tennis Challenge, where she provided insight on her career and the rapid emergence of online education.
Parker, who has worked as an attorney for an HBCU, was a member of the Board of Trustees of the University of Central Florida in 2003 when former Gov. Jeb Bush appointed her to the university system’s Board of Governors.
Under her leadership, Parker oversees the education of hundreds of thousands of students at 11 public universities in Florida. She spoke about the board’s responsibilities.
“We develop policy for the 320,000 students who are part of the State University System. We advocate for the system with our Legislature. We try to ensure that there is no duplication and we’re making the best use of our dollars,” said Parker, a Jacksonville attorney. “We try to ensure that we have quality and that we’re providing a quality education for our students and that we’re meeting the demands of a growing state. We believe that the university system is one of the best, and the best that our state can make in ensuring that we build a strong economy.”
Parker said that the Florida Board of Governors tries to encourage programming and develop policies that meet the needs of students. For instance, she said, Florida needs more individuals with degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and so the Board of Governors put in place policies to support STEM education.
Right now, Parker said, a huge issue facing the Board of Governors is adequate funding for the universities and how to provide high quality education with a limited budget.
Parker said online learning is transforming education. At the K-12 level, the state of Florida has a virtual school that provides education through an online curriculum, she said, and the Florida Legislature requires every high-school student to take at least one online class before graduation.
“They want to ensure that our students have that type of exposure so they will be prepared to meet the demands of society,” said Parker.
The Florida Legislature supports online learning at the university level as well. Parker said the “huge expansion” of online degree programs at the university level presents a great opportunity for students to gain certificates and take some classes online.
Parker says she views the growth in online degree programs with mixed emotions. While she believes it is a great idea to have students exposed to e-learning and technology, she acknowledges that not all students have the equipment and the broadband Internet access needed to participate.
“I’m happy on the one hand that we are expanding in that direction. I’m saddened by the fact there are students who are only going to be able to do this by borrowing a computer at home or at the library. They will have less time with assignments and programs than those who own computers,” she said.
Listen to the interview in its entirety here on Politic365.com: