FT: Shortly after you achieved independence, Gov. Jeb Bush vetoed $1.2 million the Legislature slotted to help New College. How well have you done in lobbying the Legislature since then?
Michalson: After getting $500,000 as an adjustment, myself and Bob Johnson, our board chairman, who was a former state senator, spent a little bit more time with the governor. In addition to that $500,000, we needed $2.3 million to subsidize the administrative infrastructure that we had to support once we were unhooked from USF. We have received that entire amount.
FT: What's been the steepest challenge for you as president?
Michalson: One was just establishing our governance structure. USF/Sarasota/Manatee has a relocation plan, and very little of it has been funded. We're tight for space. The legislation that made us independent required us to seek independent accreditation. The difficulty of responding to the accreditation was considerable. Another thing is budget-building and doing the hard political work.
FT: Since USF and New College still share some facilities, is there an open dialogue between you and USF President Judy Genshaft, or have relations between the schools been tense?
Michalson: My relations with President Genshaft are just as warm as could be.
FT: What do you envision for New College in the next five years?
Michalson: Together with continued enrollment growth, an additional four to five faculty lines that will give us a deeper, richer curriculum, with specific enhancement of environmental studies; substantial progress toward construction of new dorm space and of a facility devoted to the social sciences; the continued emergence as a leader in the nationwide discussion of the value of a high-quality liberal arts and sciences education.
FT: What would you say to skeptics who said New College would never survive on its own?
Michalson: I certainly understand the skepticism, but on balance I think what we represent is Florida's progressive attitude toward the range of options in public higher education. What a glorious thing that the state has said that in addition to the large research-oriented places, the places that have wonderful sports programs, one of the options is a small residential honors quality liberal arts college.
IN THE NEWS
Clearwater -- Clearwater-based PCB Bancorp has merged with Montgomery, Ala.-based Colonial BancGroup. The deal is worth about $141 million, with 75% stock and 25% cash. PCB has 16 offices in Florida, most of them in Pinellas County, and has $664 million in assets. Colonial has 16 offices in Pasco, Pinellas and Hillsborough counties, with an area headquarters in Tampa. It has $15.8 billion in assets.
Dade City -- Pasco Beverage Group plans to lay off 250 workers by March and has decided to sell its chilled juice operation to Flemington, N.J.-based Johanna Foods. Pasco Beverage will still employ 350 workers, who will continue to produce concentrate.
Hillsborough County -- Patricia G. Bean has been named Hillsborough County's first female county administrator. Bean has been deputy county administrator since 1988 and replaces Dan Kleman, who resigned last year.
Pinellas County -- For five years an unnamed out-of-state rental management company sent tourist taxes collected on Pinellas County condo rentals to Hillsborough County by mistake. Hillsborough County has returned $250,000 to Pinellas but may have to return more depending on the outcome of an investigation into the matter by the state Department of Revenue. The Pinellas County Tax Collector's Office discovered the discrepancy in a recent audit.
St. Petersburg -- St. Petersburg will not be getting the Wi-Fi, or wireless fidelity, zone that the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership was working on securing. The Wi-Fi zone would enable wireless connections to the internet, but the partnership could not find a sponsorship to cover the initial $70,000 to install the technology or the $30,000 annually it would cost to maintain.
The chief of medicine at St. Petersburg's Bay Pines V.A. Medical Center has been reassigned following a federal investigation on charges that he misused money and sexually harassed employees. Dr. Harold L. Kennedy has been reassigned to cardiology at the center. The inspector general at Veterans Affairs has been investigating whether Kennedy accepted money from pharmaceutical companies to pay for private parties and whether he harassed employees.
St. Petersburg College is hoping to buy Largo's Coliseum nightclub for $1.55 million. The college says it needs the nightclub property so it can grow.
Tampa -- The University of South Florida's College of Business Administration broke ground on a 45,000-sq.-ft. addition to Chester H. Ferguson Hall, the first new construction at the college in nearly 30 years. The $10-million expansion will include an auditorium, dining room, boardroom, classrooms and administrative offices.
Atlanta-based construction companies Aviation Constructors and ACI Commercial, a division of Aviation Constructors that builds educational and commercial projects, are moving their headquarters to Tampa this month. ACI, with $156 million in annual revenue, has nine offices across the country and is one of the largest construction companies in the nation. It employs about 100.
The National Science Foundation has given the University of South Florida a $446,593 grant to continue training teachers in engineering sciences. The program, Research Experience for Teachers, was developed to help teachers get more students interested in math and sciences.
Staffing company Kforce (Nasdaq-KFRC) bought Novato, Calif.-based Hall, Kinion & Associates for $65 million. Hall, Kinion had revenue of $120 million in 2002 and about 300 employees. Kforce employs about 1,100 and will now operate in 45 U.S. markets.
BRADENTON -- Tropicana Products' parent company, Pepsico, is moving the juice maker's headquarters to Chicago. Tropicana had been based in Bradenton for 56 years. About 275 people will be laid off because of the reorganization, though some will receive offers to relocate to Chicago. Tropicana's processing and distribution operations will remain in Bradenton, along with about 1,900 employees.