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Takeaways from Tallahassee — And the winner is …

We’ll just have to wait until Oct. 3 to find out.

And the winner is …

Set your DVR for The Cooking Channel Oct. 3 at 1 p.m. to find out if Tallahassee political consultant Josh Cooper will be crowned the 8th Annual World Food Champion — “the biggest title in Food Sport,” according to organizers — which comes with a $100,000 grand prize.

Cooper was named one of three finalists at The Final Table: Indianapolis contest in August. Judges chose the winner then but revealing who it is won’t happen until the telecast.

Tallahassee chef and political consultant Josh Cooper could be the next World Food Champion; we will have to wait until October 3 to find out. Image via World Food Championship.

Keeping COVID-19 in mind, there won’t be a watch party at the Cooper house next Saturday — just family — but there will be food.

“Probably burgers. I’ve been doing a lot of burgers where I grind my own meat using brisket,” he predicted. “The kids love the burgers, so we’ll probably do some with homemade French fries.”

The hourlong program highlights the competitors’ journey to the championship and captures the intensity of the two-day competition as the chefs created three Indiana-specific cooking challenges, including the State Dessert, Sugar Cream Pie.

“It was crazy,” Cooper said immediately after the whirlwind event. “There were a lot of incredible cooks there and we did very well.” In the show, “people are gonna get to see a little bit behind the scenes of what goes on in these major food competitions.”

Cooper and his team won The WFC’s 2019 Main Event in the Seafood category to earn their spot in the finals, competing against the winners in nine other categories (Chicken, Bacon, Chef, Burger, Steak, Sandwich, Dessert, Chili and Barbecue) for the top prize. In 2019, more than 450 culinary teams from 11 countries and 42 American states competed in the Main Event.

Before his latest accomplishment, Cooper competed in Food Sport for 13 years, winning almost $54,000 in prizes. He also appeared on the eighth season of Gordon Ramsay’s popular Master Chef cooking show in 2017.

“You’re competing against yourself. You’re competing against the clock, and you’re competing against nine other world champions. It is a lot of pressure,” he said. “Competing on Master Chef was quite intense with the clock and Gordon Ramsay looking at you, but nothing compared to the World Food Championships where you’ve got nine other world champions and you’re competing for $100,000.”

Coming up, the usual assortment of tidbits, leftovers and not-ready-for-prime-time moments by Peter Schorsch, Drew Wilson, Renzo Downey, Jason Delgado, and the staff of Florida Politics.

Take 5

The “Takeaway 5” — the Top 5 stories from the week that was:

Florida enters Phase 3 reopening — DeSantis on Friday announced all businesses in Florida as the state enacted the next phase of reopening amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Most noticeably, that includes allowing 100% capacity at restaurants and bars. The move has been in the works for some time, with Phase Two beginning the first week of June. DeSantis also made clear his administration will preempt local governments from shutting down restaurants, though there remains some ability to regulate the businesses at the local level. This is a significant departure from the Governor’s approach since early in the pandemic when he encouraged local governments to make decisions on lockdown regulations themselves.

Ron DeSantis pushes for anti-protest law — Following months of protests in streets across the nation following the death of George Floyd, some paired with violence and looting, the Governor unveiled the “Combating Violence, Disorder and Looting and Law Enforcement Protection Act.” The legislation cracks down on protests with increased penalties. The proposed bill would also waive any liability for drivers who kill or injure protesters with their vehicles if they are fleeing a “mob.” The legislation also would deny state grants and aid to local governments who “defund the police.” Ron DeSantis has said he wants the legislation passed in the organizing session next November.

Mike Bloomberg pays felons, prompting outcry — The former New York Mayor donated $16 million to a Florida Rights Restoration Coalition fund that aims to pay off outstanding fines and debts for felons so they may register to vote. The move came after courts upheld Florida legislation that requires felons to complete all financial portions of sentencing before they can register to vote, a right restored with the passage of a constitutional amendment in 2018. But Republicans like Matt Gaetz and Jimmy Patronis quickly cried foul, and Attorney General Ashley Moody has called on the FBI and Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate whether the plan amounts to bribing voters.

Speculation spikes around Lagoa — Florida Republicans lobbied increasingly in the open for President Donald Trump to tap federal appellate judge Barbara Lagoa for a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court left by Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death. Trump had appointed Lagoa to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2019 shortly after DeSantis named her to the Florida Supreme Court. Trump as of Friday has said he’s narrowed a shortlist down to five potential picks, and will likely name a woman to the post on Saturday. National media frequently cites Lagoa as a possible choice, but suggest sources in the White House favor Amy Coney Barrett, who sits on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.

Court says R.J. Reynolds must pay millions — In a major win for Moody, Florida’s 4th District Court of Appeals ruled the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company must pay Florida a one-time payment of $92 million and an estimated $30 million annually related to a settlement with the state dating back to 1997. The company argued it should not owe money connected to four cigarette brands — Salem, Winston, Kool and Maverick — that had been sold to ITG Brands, which was not part of the settlement. Those four brands account for 8% of the domestic tobacco market. The decision upholds a ruling by a Palm Beach Circuit Judge.

Coronavirus numbers

Positive cases:

— 687,656 FL residents (+17,972 since Sept. 18)

— 8,231 Non-FL residents (+255 since Sept. 18)

Origin:

— 5,632 Travel related

— 248,097 Contact with a confirmed case

— 5,892 Both

— 428,035 Under investigation

Hospitalizations:

— 43,299 in FL

Deaths:

— 14,083 in FL

‘Get There Florida’

DeSantis this week rolled out a new initiative aimed at raising awareness of short-term, high-value career and technical education programs.

Get There Florida, launched during Workforce Development Month, heralds the benefits of rapid credentialing programs available at Florida College System institutions and the state’s technical colleges and centers.

The initiative will help speed up students’ time to completion of an in-demand but high-value industry certification or postsecondary workforce credential. Programs include advanced manufacturing, transportation and logistics, and information technology.

This announcement comes on the heels of $35 million made available through the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) fund by way of the CARES Act.

“I set a goal to make Florida the best state in the nation for workforce development by 2030, and the Get There Florida Initiative marks an important step toward achieving that goal,” DeSantis said.

Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran added, “The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the divide between Floridians’ current skills, and the opportunity for advancement in employment. Many Floridians have signaled they want to find employment where their skills match demand from employers, especially in those in-demand fields that help communities through COVID-19. Florida’s world-class higher education system can help students ‘Get There.’

“It is now time to double down on our postsecondary career and technical education programs, helping our colleges re-imagine how they can contribute to workforce development. Get There accomplishes that goal.”

To view a video promoting ‘Get There Florida,’ click on the image below:

Next stop: Canada

DeSantis is commending Trump for allowing states to submit drug importation program proposals as part of the federal government’s plan to lower drug prices.

The Department of Health and Human Services and the Food and Drug Administration is allowing states to submit those plans to the FDA.

“Driving down the cost of prescription drugs for Floridians has remained a top priority of mine,” DeSantis said. “This step toward improved prescription affordability is a win for American consumers, and I thank President Trump for the swift action from his administration. By decreasing the financial burden for Florida patients, we will improve access to essential medications they rely on.”

A leading priority for Ron DeSantis is lowering prescription drug prices; importing drugs from Canada is the first big step. Image via AP.

Trump announced the plan as part of a broader affordable health care plan in July. At the event, DeSantis highlighted Florida’s plan to import certain prescription drugs from Canada to lower health care costs.

The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration released an Invitation to Negotiate for the Canadian Drug Importation Program on the state’s vendor bid system in June 2020, with an anticipated award date of December 2020 for a vendor to assist with the implementation of the program.

“Under Governor DeSantis’ leadership, Florida has prioritized paving a pathway forward for the importation of safe, affordable prescription drugs,” said the agency’s secretary, Mary Mayhew. “These actions by President Trump and his administration will be transformative in supporting increased access to lifesaving medications.”

Featured artist

Orestes Bouzon is Florida’s featured artist for Hispanic Heritage Month, First Lady Casey DeSantis announced.

Bouzon fled Cuba in 1994 to come to the United States and quickly became a recognized name in contemporary art.

“I am delighted to announce world-renowned artist, Mr. Orestes Bouzon as Florida’s featured artist for the 2020 Hispanic Heritage Month,” DeSantis said. “His story, like so many others, is one of hardship and hard work.

“After fleeing Cuba in 1994, Mr. Bouzon set out for a better life in the United States and began working as an artist for the Marine Corps at Guantánamo Bay. Mr. Bouzon’s untold story is one that I am excited to celebrate, along with his art, during this year’s Hispanic Heritage Month.”

Casey DeSantis named Cuban American painter Orestes Bouzon as Florida’s featured artist for the 2020 Hispanic Heritage Month. Images via Facebook.

Bouzon is known for using a figurative style to create magical realism in his paintings. He often uses the female figure combined with other elements and vibrant colors to capture light, making his painting extraordinary.

As the artist explains, “my paintings emphasize the female form — my muse. She is confident yet serine; unique and yet every woman. I am captivated by the romantic fabric of days gone by, and adorn my muse in swirls of rich color and light.”

‘Dose of Reality’

Attorney General Moody this week recognized the anniversary of DoseOfRealityFL.com, a website designed to inform Floridians of the dangers of opioid abuse.

 Beyond raising awareness, the website also provides Floridians with resources from the Florida Department of Health, Drug Enforcement Agency and CDC.

Moody said the website’s ultimate goal is to save lives.

“As the pandemic has forced more people to work, learn and socialize online, we are grateful this statewide tool is available and helpful to those struggling with addiction by providing information, resources and materials to them and to health professionals that can help break the cycle of the opioid epidemic.”

Since the site’s launch, Moody has added several new resources and online tools to the website. The new features, among others, include statewide prescription take-back locations, a safe-storage guide and a 211 partnership with local resources.

The material has also been translated to Spanish.

“Ending the opioid crisis is a daunting task and it’s exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic plaguing our state,” Moody said. “That is why we are always looking for innovative ways to stop opioid misuse. Through this approach, DoseOfRealityFL.com was born.

To watch Moody’s video introducing the program, click on the image below:

Come on down

Chief Financial Officer Patronis released a video this week encouraging Big Apple businesses to leave New York and relocate to Florida.

The video serves as a follow-up to several letters he sent last month urging them to take root in Florida, citing New York’s financial woes. In recent months, the COVID-19 pandemic has stricken New York with a $14 billion revenue shortfall that is forecast to reach $16 billion in 2022.

But as the CFO tells it, New York’s troubles began long before the novel coronavirus.

“Even before COVID, New York has always been poor at managing money and year after year, they continue to spend money they don’t have,” he says in the video. “I am encouraging businesses who are considering the move to reach out to my office. Unlike New York, Florida won’t take your business for granted.”

The letter and video were sent to several businesses including IBM, JPMorgan Chase, Verizon Wireless, Pepsi Co., NBC Universal, American Express and others.

CFO Patronis served on Gov. Ron DeSantis’s Re-Open Florida Taskforce and serves on the Enterprise Florida, Inc. Board. He is also a fourth-generation Floridian and a former small-business owner.

To watch the video, click on the image below:

Chinese connection

Patronis issued a directive this week aimed at bolstering transparency requirements for vendors that do business with the Department of Financial Services.

The directive requires DFS to leverage the country-of-origin vendor survey that was issued in May before signing new contracts or amending current ones.

The directive also requires DFS to provide “legal recommendations on pursuing claims against the Communist Party of China for its cover-up of COVID-19” and statutory recommendations on how to boost transparency regarding the extent to which Florida’s vendors are owned or controlled by foreign interests.

Jimmy Patronis is directing vendors working with the Department of Financial Services to provide increased transparency.

“Recently, we heard from the Joint Legislative Budget Commission that Florida taxpayers are going to be out over $5 billion because of a pandemic that the Chinese-government tried covering up. In fact, the Chinese government went as far as blaming the United States for COVID-19, which is the type of diversion tactic a guilty party would use. Meanwhile, the State of Florida is cutting checks that total billions of dollars every year — and many of these dollars go to vendors that may be owned by the Communist Party of China,” Patronis said.

“Florida, as well as the United States, will need remedies for recouping the losses that resulted from COVID-19, and today’s directive takes much-needed steps in bolstering transparency and tightening our efforts of holding the Chinese government accountable for how they wronged our state and nation.”

Instagram of the week

The Week in appointments

Florida’s 2nd Circuit Court — DeSantis appointed Joshua Hawkes to the 2nd Circuit Court. Hawkes, of Tallahassee, has been a lawyer with Foley & Lardner since 2015 and is also a reserve Commander in the U.S. Navy JAG Corps. He is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy and Florida State University law school. Hawkes fills the vacancy created by the elevation of Judge Robert Long to the 1st District Court of Appeal.

Florida’s 10th Circuit Court Jennifer Swenson is moving up from the Polk County Court to the 10th Circuit Court. Before becoming a judge, Swenson served as an Assistant State Attorney since 2012. The Lakeland resident received her bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University and her law degree from Duke University. She fills the vacancy created by the elevation of Judge John Stargel to the 2nd District Court of Appeal.

Florida’s 20th Circuit Court — The Governor appointed Gilberto Perez to the 20th Circuit Court. Perez, of Cape Coral, has been a General Magistrate in the circuit since 2015 and previously maintained a private law practice. He is a graduate of Florida International University and University of Notre Dame law school. Perez fills the vacancy created by the resignation of Judge George Richards.

Leon County Court Stefanie Morris, of Tallahassee, was appointed to the Leon County Court this week. Morris has been an Assistant State Attorney in the Second Circuit since 2007. She is an alumna of the University of Florida, where she earned her bachelor’s degree, and Stetson University, where she earned her law degree. Morris fills the vacancy created by the elevation of Judge Layne Smith to the 2nd Circuit Court.

Escambia County Court — DeSantis appointed Barry Dickson, of Pensacola Beach, to the Escambia County Court. Dickson has been an Assistant Public Defender for the 1st Circuit Court since 2004 and is also a reserve Lt. Colonel in the U.S. Air Force Chaplain Corps. Dickson received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida and his law degree from Florida State University. He fills the vacancy created by the elevation of Judge Jennifer Frydrychowicz to the 1st Circuit Court.

Signing bonus

The Florida Department of Corrections needs workers, and it’s willing to pony up to get them.

FDC announced this week that applicants who complete their correctional officer certification through either the department or certain state colleges will be eligible for a $1,000 bonus. The department also stressed that paid training is available.

“The path to becoming an officer starts with our training academy. Recruits receive a full-time salary as they attend a 12-week course that provides the necessary skills for success as a correctional officer,” recruitment materials say. “Recruits learn defensive tactics, first aid, CPR and firearms training among other required courses.”

The bonus applies to new hires at more than two-dozen FDC facilities, from Apalachee Correctional institution to Walton Correctional Institution.

FDC said it has also expanded the applicant base for positions by setting the minimum age for correctional officers at 18.

“By expanding the hiring age for Florida’s correctional officers, we are opening more doors for young men and women to begin an honorable public safety career in our state,” the department said.

Those interested in working at FDC can get more information at FLDOCjobs.com.

To view a DOC recruitment video, click on the image below:

New additions

The Florida Housing Finance Corporation is expanding a program to help homeless families get stable housing to three more counties.

Florida Housing’s board unanimously approved expanding the organization’s Housing Stability for Homeless Schoolchildren Initiative to Alachua, Bay, and Charlotte counties.

They join Santa Rosa County, where the pilot program was launched in 2018, and Hernando County, which was added to the list earlier this year.

The Florida Housing Finance Corporation is expanding its efforts to provide stable homes for the homeless.

“School often serves as a refuge for our youth and the consistency of education is key to building a healthy future,” said First Lady DeSantis. “This initiative has proved to help homeless schoolchildren and increase academic performance and attendance. The partnership between Florida Housing and local communities will help expand a foundation for housing and educational stability for Florida’s children and families.”

There are more than 90,000 homeless school children in the state. In many cases, the lack of a stable living situation keeps them from going to school regularly. Florida Housing found success in the pilot phase, with the number of homeless schoolchildren in Santa Rosa County dropping from 1,033 to 656.

“This program is the first of its kind in Florida that will provide financial and housing relief to homeless families, while also emphasizing the importance of childhood education,” said Trey Price, Executive Director of Florida Housing Finance Corporation.

“Now, even more so in light of the current global pandemic, there will be an increased need for housing as families continue to experience economic setbacks. We are thrilled to be expanding this program to additional counties throughout the state and hope to partner with more school districts in the future.”

Veteran discount 

A bill providing an ad valorem tax discount to the surviving spouses of veterans was signed into law recently by DeSantis.

The now-law, HB 879, is intended to help surviving spouses stay in their established homes rather than move elsewhere unfamiliar without their loved one.

New Smyrna Beach Sen. Tom Wright sponsored a Senate version of the measure.

“With the passage of this bill, we are ensuring veterans’ surviving spouses can remain living in the same home without fear of paying additional taxes solely because their lifelong partner passes away,” said the Republican lawmaker. “I’m thankful to my colleagues who approved this bill that strengthens Florida’s reputation of being the most veteran-friendly state.”

Tom Wright, a New Smyrna Beach Republican, is behind a property tax discount for surviving spouses of veterans. Image via Colin Hackley.

The discount ends once the surviving spouse remarries or moves from the home.

Currently, Florida residents who served in the military are also eligible for various reductions in ad valorem taxes based on the level of their permanent, service-connected disability.

Florida is home to over 1.5 million veterans, according to Floridavets.org.

Moreover, more than 177,000 veterans from Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom claim the Sunshine State as their home of record.

More information on veteran benefits can be found online.

Program expanded

This week, the Florida Housing Finance Corporation Board of Directors unanimously approved an expansion of the Housing Stability for Homeless Schoolchildren Initiative.

The program helps homeless families attain housing stability and economic self-sufficiency. It also helps school-aged children without housing stability to stay on track with their education.

The program is now available in Alachua, Bay and Charlotte County.

The Florida Housing Finance Corporation Chief Trey Price is touting an expansion of the Housing Stability for Homeless Schoolchildren Initiative.

“School often serves as a refuge for our youth and the consistency of education is key to building a healthy future,” said First Lady DeSantis. “This initiative has proved to help homeless schoolchildren and increase academic performance and attendance. The partnership between Florida Housing and local communities will help expand a foundation for housing and educational stability for Florida’s children and families.”

Homeless schoolchildren remain an issue in the Sunshine State. In a news release, Florida Housing estimated roughly 91,675 schoolchildren are homeless in the state.

Florida housing added that a lack of stable housing can adversely impact children in school.

“This program is the first of its kind in Florida that will provide financial and housing relief to homeless families, while also emphasizing the importance of childhood education,” said Florida Housing Finance Corporation Executive Director Price.

Happy half Earth Day

The Florida State Parks Foundation received a $50,000 grant from Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s Outdoor Fund this week to support the Foundation’s Plant a Pine initiative.

The grant will help the Foundation plant 100,000 longleaf pine trees by April 22, 2021, which symbolically is Earth Day.

“This very generous gift is even more special because it will be used as a matching grant which effectively doubles its worth,” said Foundation President Gil Ziffer. “Our Plant a Pine initiative has really resonated with the public. And now, thanks to this $50,000 matching grant, we will be able to do so much more.”

Florida State Parks Foundation President Gil Ziffer is celebrating the halfway mark to Earth Day with a ‘Plant a Pine’ initiative.

The initiative launched on Earth Day last year. It comes in response to the dramatic decline of longleaf pine in recent years. In a news release, the Foundation said the longleaf pine has long been prized for commercial use in building houses, ships, and railroads.

The Foundation added that longleaf pines once flourished over 90 million acres in the Southeast. Now, however, the pine covers less than 3% of its original area.

The initiative is focused on rebuilding in struggling areas.

“The trees are being planted in coordination with the Florida Park Service in park areas identified for restoration efforts,” Ziffer concluded.

Guide to the ballot

The James Madison Institute has released a new voter guide to help Floridians make sense of the half-dozen constitutional amendments slated for the November ballot.

“If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that policies matter. This year’s slate of amendments will have far-reaching implications for Floridians, from how we conduct elections to what small-business owners have to pay their employees,” JMI President and CEO Bob McClure said. “It is our hope that The James Madison Institute’s 2020 Amendment Guide will educate voters on the issues present and guide the decisions they make for our future.”

For each amendment, the guide includes a plain English (or Spanish) description, a list of pros and cons, and an explanation of what a “Yes” or “No” vote would mean.

James Madison Institute President Bob McClure is promoting the 2020 Amendment Guide, to help educate and inform voters of what issues are on the ballot.

“We all know that 2020 is a pivotal election for not only the country but for the future of the Sunshine State’s governance and economy. It’s important to be informed, and know-how what the impact of a yes-or-no vote will be for each of the six amendments,” JMI Vice President of Policy Sal Nuzzo said.

“Once the votes are tallied, it is extraordinarily difficult to undo something once it’s passed. We owe it to our children and their children to carefully weigh each one seriously. Our mission is to provide factual information to help voters navigate each of the amendments through objective analysis and honest appraisal.”

The voter guide is available on JMI’s website.

‘All Tech On Deck’

Some of the state’s biggest tech companies are joining forces for the benefit of the industry.

The Florida Technology Council, TalTech Alliance, Jacksonville IT Council, South Florida Technology Alliance, SouthWest Florida Tech Partnership, TechLauderdale, FACC Miami, and French Tech Miami began working on a collaborative agreement in early August.

The agreement, now signed by a majority of Florida’s technology associations, is the first step in developing what leadership believes to be a valuable expanded partnership.

“Past collaborations have repeatedly proven that working together drastically increases efficiency, efficacy, and success,” said Wendy Norfleet, CEO of Norfleet Integrated Solutions and President of the Jacksonville IT Council. “We are excited to play a strong role in expanding our collaborations statewide.”

Working together drastically increases efficiency, efficacy, and success,’ says Jacksonville IT Council President Wendy Norfleet.

Regional leaders from across the state have moved quickly to play a role in developing this new partnership with Florida’s long-standing statewide technology body, the Florida Technology Council.

James Taylor, CEO of FTC, outlined the group’s desires: “By joining forces, we are able to bring individual strengths from our state’s top tech associations, chambers and councils under one united umbrella. This significant networking initiative is being crafted to help ensure interoperability and operational effectiveness by assisting active organizations in communication, education, training, and day-to-day operations.”

‘Rigor gap’

Florida students’ have better report cards than their test scores imply, according to a new report from the Florida Council of 100.

The council’s study has identified a “rigor gap” between the grades Florida high school students receive and their mastery of the content required to pass the pivotal Algebra I and 10th grade English Language Arts end-of-course exams.

According to the analysis, almost three-quarters of high school English 2 students and more than half of Algebra I students who failed their exams earned a classroom grade of C or higher. Further, a third of English 2 students and 12% of Algebra I students who failed earned a classroom grade of B or higher.

The council says the data makes clear Florida can do better.

“Our analysis concludes that if teachers, leaders, and administrators hold students accountable throughout the school year for the standards they’ll be evaluated on at the end of the year, their grades and test scores will be closely aligned,” Corr said. “The rigor gap we see instead indicates the contrary, the result being that students are less prepared for success at the postsecondary level or in the workplace.”

Council of 100 Chair Chris Corr believes Florida should bridge the ‘Rigor Gap’ in schools.

Boosting accountability might take some tough love — the council pointed to a 2010 study that shows students who expect their teachers to be lax on grading assignments study less and do worse on exams.

Conversely, recent research from North Carolina shows stringent grading standards learn more and perform better.

Rising up the ranks

The FAMU-FSU College of Engineering has cracked the Top 40.

New rankings published by U.S. News & World Report show the college climbed 37 spots over the past year, landing at No. 40 among public universities. The improvement ranks the joint college second among all, both public and private, engineering schools in Florida.

The college’s movement up 51 places was the highest of any engineering institution and more than double that of any other school. Additionally, the school rocketed up 51 spots to reach No. 69 among all doctoral granting undergraduate engineering schools in the U.S.

The FAMU-FSU College of Engineering jumped 37 spots to crack the Top. 40

“The recent U.S. News and World Report rankings reflect the outcome of a 38-year partnership between FAMU and FSU with a commitment to excellence and with a clear understanding of the need to catalyze change through diversity, equity and inclusion in our students and all aspects of the operation,” FAMU President Larry Robinson said. “I am proud to partner with Florida State University and see our joint college recognized as a national leader in engineering education.”

FSU President John Thrasher added, “FSU and FAMU broke the mold on collaborations between universities when the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering was established. The college has made incredible strides in recent years under the leadership of Dean Gibson, and I’m pleased that today it is recognized as one of the nation’s Top 40 public engineering schools. This is additional evidence that our partnership with FAMU embodies excellence and diversity in engineering education.

The FAMU-FSU College of Engineering is the only such school in the country to serve two institutions, and Gibson also credited the partnership for the rise in the rankings.

“Some people might object to having two bosses, but in this case, it has been a wonderful gift,” he said.

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