Turbulent politics: A case study of the passage from statutory to constitution -based governance in Florida's State University System (1998–2003)
This study examines governance changes that occurred in Florida’s system of State University System (SUS) governance between 1998 and 2003 in an environment marked by extreme turbulence. During the five-year period researched, central policy authority for the SUS moved from a statutory Board of Regents (BOR) to a second phase characterized by dismantling of the BOR to make way for a so-called seamless system under the authority of a K-20 State Board of Education, to a third phase, the creation of a constitutionally protected federated system incorporating campus trustee boards originated in phase two as well as a central Board of Governors. The case research highlights the historical, political, social, and cultural context in which the structural changes in governance took shape.
The principal conceptual model used to guide the research was the state systems model developed by Richardson, Bracco, Callan, and Finney (1999) that included a case analysis of Florida higher education governance as probed by the researchers in the period before cascading political events occurred, triggered by voter approval of the Cabinet Reform Amendment in 1998. A secondary source of conceptual reference was a variant of the theory of Organized Anarchy (Cohen, March and Olsen, 1972) known as the Revised Garbage Can Model of public policymaking as applied to higher education system governance (McClendon, 2003).
The research confirms the relationship of the Richardson, Bracco, Callan and Finney constructs of environment, design, and leadership to understanding university system performance, despite the presence of a more pronounced political clamor in the Florida policy environment than was present when the Richardson group researched their case in the 1990s. The research also discloses collateral relevance for the Revised Garbage Can Model of policymaking in understanding an environment charged with reform tensions, as well as the enhanced importance of leadership construct in such an environment.
The study suggests opportunities for further research including multi-state studies to explore the Richardson et al. model in other environments and with other system designs. Also suggested is multi-state study using the Richardson model and other concepts, including the Revised Garbage Can Model, to yield possibilities for integrated policy theory.
Colleges & universities
0520: Education history
0617: Public administration
0745: Higher education