Without the recurring funds to back it up, UF has agreed to hire 12 new mental health counselors over the next three years.
At a Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday afternoon, President Kent Fuchs said reducing the student-to-mental-health-counselor ratio was pressing. He asked the board for their support.
Until UF finds constant funding for the incoming 12 employees, it will use nonrecurring sources to cover the cost.
“We’re doing this in advance of getting new resources with the hope and aspiration of getting resources in the future to pay this recurring expense,” Fuchs said. “We’re pleased to move forward now just because it’s so important.”
Adding the counselors will decrease the ratio from one counselor to 1,400 students to one counselor to 1,253 students.
Carolyn Imes, a 19-year-old UF international studies sophomore, said she has not gone to the Counseling and Wellness Center because her friends had bad experiences there. Instead, she seeks outside counseling with her own doctor.
Imes said increasing the number of staff would be good for accessibility, but she hopes they would be well-trained.
“I think the training is just as important as the number of people who work there,” she said.
At the board meeting, members also debated block tuition for UF’s Levin College of Law. Provost Joseph Glover said most other law schools follow the block format, instead of UF’s format of paying by credit.
“With our current way of charging students to attend the Levin College of Law, we look rather peculiar,” Glover said. “And that is important when you’re trying to recruit students and important for your national reputation.”
Dean Laura Rosenbury said there would be a slight increase in tuition for students in the college because the block system assumes 90 credits instead of UF’s normal 88, but she said tuition is still much lower than other schools.
Trustee member Mori Hosseini said the Florida Board of Governors would not accept any increase in tuition.
“I am not willing to vote if I know it will cost our students more than what they are paying,” Hosseini said.
The board agreed to approve the block plan, which will move to the Florida Board of Governors for further approval, as long as the wording is changed to make it tuition-neutral, meaning there is not a change in price.
The board also agreed to a wage increase for members of the United Faculty of Florida’s UF chapter, which the union still needs to ratify. The board agreed to a 3 percent merit pool and a 2 percent equity increase, meant for faculty who do good work but are not paid as much as their peers.
The Data Science and Information Technology Building and the Music Building both had their funding apportioned. The data science building’s budget increased to a total of $100 million to make up for the $25 million they requested last year but did not receive, said UF spokesperson Janine Sikes. The budget for the music building stayed the same but had the amount given each year adjusted.
David Quillen, a trustee, said he wanted to make sure the music building would be completed and asked for clarification about the commitment to the building.
“It doesn’t matter to me whether we move the money around from year to year as long as we get to the end,” he said.