(1) This section shall be known and may be cited as the “Florida Education Fund Act.”
(2)(a) The Florida Education Fund, a not-for-profit statutory corporation, is created from a challenge endowment grant from the McKnight Foundation and operates on income derived from the investment of endowment gifts and other gifts as provided by state statute and appropriate matching funds as provided by the state.
(b) The Legislature may appropriate funds to the Florida Education Fund to be used for scholarships under subsection (5). Funds appropriated to the Florida Education Fund shall be matched on a dollar-for-dollar basis by funds contributed from private sources, including, but not limited to, income earned from investment returns on the Florida Education Fund Endowment, the value of monetary and in-kind contributions to the McKnight Doctoral Fellowship Program, the value of services provided by McKnight Doctoral Fellows to Florida not-for-profit corporations and public and nonpublic colleges and universities, and the value of tuition and fees paid on behalf of McKnight Doctoral Fellows from funds not appropriated to the Florida Education Fund. The Florida Education Fund shall certify to the Department of Education’s Office of Student Financial Assistance the estimated value of such matching amounts prior to the disbursement of the appropriation and shall certify to the Legislature the actual value of such matching amounts as of June 30 each year. Only new donations above the certified prior year base shall be calculated for state matching funds. The department shall provide the format for which the Florida Education Fund shall comply with the reporting requirements of this paragraph.
(c) The corporation shall provide to the department a copy of its certified financial statement and annual report, including the corporation’s assets and cash reserve balances. The corporation shall also provide the department documentation which includes the name of each scholarship recipient, the postsecondary education institution attended, the discipline of study, and the amount awarded to each recipient. The corporation shall post a copy of its certified financial statement and annual report on its website.
(3) The Florida Education Fund shall use the income of the fund to provide for programs which seek to:
(a) Enhance the quality of higher educational opportunity in this state;
(b) Enhance equality by providing access to effective higher education programs by minority and economically deprived individuals in this state, with particular consideration to be given to the needs of both blacks and women; and
(c) Increase the representation of minorities in faculty and administrative positions in higher education in this state and to provide more highly educated minority leadership in business and professional enterprises in this state.
(4) The Florida Education Fund shall be administered by a board of directors, which is hereby established. (a) The board of directors shall consist of 12 members, to be appointed as follows:
1. Two laypersons appointed by the Governor;
2. Two laypersons appointed by the President of the Senate;
3. Two laypersons appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives; and
4. Two representatives of state universities, two representatives of Florida College System institutions, and two representatives of independent colleges or universities appointed by the State Board of Education.
The board of directors may appoint to the board an additional five members from the private sector for the purpose of assisting in the procurement of private contributions. Such members shall serve as voting members of the board.
(b) Each of the educational sectors in paragraph (a) shall be represented by a president and a faculty member of the corresponding institutions.
(c) Each director shall hold office for a term of 3 years or until resignation or removal for cause. A director may resign at any time by filing his or her written resignation with the executive secretary for the board. The terms of the directors shall be staggered so that the terms of one-third of the directors will expire annually.
(d) In the event of a vacancy on the board caused by other than the expiration of a term, a new member shall be appointed by the appointing entity in the sector of which the vacancy occurs.
(e) Each member is accountable to the Governor for the proper performance of the duties of his or her office. The Governor shall cause any complaint or unfavorable report received concerning an action of the board or any of its members to be investigated and shall take appropriate action thereon. The Governor may remove any member from office for malfeasance, misfeasance, neglect of duty, incompetence, or permanent inability to perform his or her official duties or for pleading nolo contendere to, or being found guilty of, a crime.
(5) The Board of Directors of the Florida Education Fund shall review and evaluate initial programs created by the McKnight Foundation and continue funding the McKnight Doctoral Fellowship Program and the McKnight Junior Faculty Fellowship Program if the evaluations are positive, and the board shall identify, initiate, and fund new and creative programs and monitor, review, and evaluate those programs. The purpose of this commitment is to broaden the participation and funding potential for further significant support of higher education in this state. In addition, the board shall:
(a) Hold such meetings as are necessary to implement this section.
(b) Select a chairperson annually.
(c) Adopt and use an official seal in the authentication of its acts.
(d) Make rules for its own government.
(e) Administer this section.
(f) Appoint an executive director to serve at its pleasure and perform all duties assigned by the board. The executive director shall be the chief administrative officer and agent of the board.
(g) Maintain a record of its proceedings.
(h) Delegate to the chairperson of the board the responsibility for signing final orders.
(i) Utilize existing higher education organizations, associations, and agencies to carry out its educational programs and purposes with minimal staff employment.
(j) Be empowered to enter into contracts with the Federal Government, state agencies, or individuals.
(k) Receive bequests, gifts, grants, donations, and other valued goods and services. Such bequests and gifts shall be used only for the purpose or purposes stated by the donor.
(6) The board of directors is authorized to establish a trust fund from the proceeds of the Florida Education Fund. All funds deposited into the trust fund shall be invested pursuant to the provisions of s. 215.47. Interest income accruing to the unused portion of the trust fund shall increase the total funds available for endowments. The Department of Education may, at the request of the board of directors, administer the fund for investment purposes.
(7) It is the intent of the Legislature that the Board of Directors of the Florida Education Fund recruit eligible residents of the state before it extends its search to eligible nonresidents. It is further the intent of the Legislature that the board of directors establish service terms, if any, that accompany the award of moneys from the fund.