The Florida Governor's Meeting. Photo by Rahma Hassan.

Rahma Hassan contributed to this article.

The Florida Board of Governors concluded three days of meetings hosted at University of Central Florida on Thursday, marking their last full meeting until mid-September 2018.

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The board’s sixteen members are responsible for overseeing the State University System (SUS), a group of twelve public colleges and universities that includes UCF. From June 26 to June 28, governors met in various subcommittees at the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center before convening for a full board meeting Thursday morning.

UCF’s main focus was its progress toward becoming a Preeminent State Research University alongside Florida State University, the University of Florida, and University of South Florida. This status grants institutions additional state funding to become a stronger research institution recruiting more graduate students. UCF was officially recognized as an emerging preeminent school in September 2016.

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The Board of Governors awarded UCF $1.54 million in preeminent research funding. The university met seven of eleven criteria needed to qualify as a Preeminent State Research University in the 2017-18 academic year. The school hopes to reach nine criteria by 2020 and to become a Preeminent State Research University within five years, according to UCF President John C. Hitt.

Progress towards preeminence was part of UCF’s 2018 Accountability Plan. The plan seeks to implement three key initiatives over the next three years: hiring full-time faculty members to meet student demands and reduce class sizes, expanding UCF’s graduate program and enhancing the volume and impact of research, and increasing student retention and graduation rates.

In order to meet these goals, UCF intends to continue using preeminence funds and state performance funds. This strategy allowed UCF to create 335 faculty positions, all of which are tenure or tenure-track, over the past four years. “These hires support disciplines in which UCF is experiencing higher enrollment,” President Hitt said, “including areas of strategic emphasis – science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”

Outside of UCF, the full Board of Governors unanimously approved all twelve University Accountability Plans presented. Dr. Mark Rosenberg and Dr. Donal O’Shea were reappointed as presidents at Florida International University and New College of Florida, respectively. The University of Florida’s University Athletic Association received approval for construction of a new baseball stadium and renovations to the softball stadium.

At the final meeting Thursday morning, UCF got an opportunity to showcase its Reserve Officer Training Corps program in a Think Florida presentation by Lt. Colonel Charles Love, USAF and Captain James Lehman, USA. The program “offers full-time students the opportunity to become officers in the Army and Air Force while completing their degrees.” Multiple members and alumni of the program spoke briefly about the impact of the program on their lives and academics.