Gov. Rick Scott of Florida signed legislation on Friday afternoon to turn a branch campus of the University of South Florida into a freestanding institution that would be the state’s 12th public university, the Tampa Bay Times and the Associated Press report. In signing the bill, the Republican governor defied the wishes of the university system’s Board of Governors, which endorsed the idea of making the Lakeland campus a stand-alone university but wanted to wait until it had a minimum enrollment and was prepared to meet the requirements of its accreditor. Critics of the proposal also said it was unwise to open a new campus when state funds for higher education are being cut by hundreds of millions of dollars. The new institution, to be known as Florida Polytechnic University, was the pet project of J.D. Alexander, the Republican president of the State Senate, who in his last term sought to leave as his legacy the creation of a new university.