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Gov. Scott signs off on new state university

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed a bill that calls for transforming a current branch campus of the University of South Florida in Lakeland into a stand-alone university.

The move would allow the university to become independent right away instead of meeting accreditation and other requirements the Board of Governors had set for the campus.

Scott decided to back the bill (SB 1994) pushed by Sen. J.D. Alexander, R-Lake Wales, even though influential business leaders throughout the state had urged the governor to veto the bill.

Backers of the new school contend it will help the state produce science, technology, engineering and math graduates. Scott has said the state needs those graduates to compete with other states.