The University of Florida presented the first of the 2013-2014 Eye Opener Discovery Breakfasts series on Wednesday at the UF Hilton Hotel and Conference Center.
The Discovery Breakfasts are a monthly chance for local businesspeople, city officials and representatives from local nonprofits and UF to come together, share a meal and hear speakers on a variety of topics.
Wednesday’s breakfast had about 100 in attendance to hear Florida Representatives Keith Perry and Clovis Watson, Jr., and Florida Senator Rob Bradley, speak briefly about the state education system and the mission of making UF a Top 10 national school before taking questions from the audience.
UF is a flagship university, Bradley said, but it needs resources to become nationally recognized. Investment in education and infrastructure leads to job creation, he said.
“We’ve got all the right equipment,” he said. “We’ve got all the right seeds in the ground, and now we just need to tend them.”
Watson said that the state education system is getting better, but still needs work. Florida needs to step up efforts to recruit talent in to the state and that the legislature needs to collaborate among its factions to push education to the forefront.
Perry said that the goal is to keep the level of education at a high quality, but that we can’t leave the arts behind. Florida can’t focus solely on STEM jobs, because we can’t train everybody for the same jobs. “We don’t want to lose sight of those critical thinking skills,” he said.
The legislative delegation was asked about protection of Alachua County springs, expansion of Medicaid and encouraged by one attendee to not just think of UF as a Top 10 school in the nation, but to look forward to competing on the world stage.
The next Discovery Breakfast will take place on Oct. 16 and feature a discussion on conflict resolution by law professor Robin Davis.