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Budget cuts may cost UF summer classes

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Posted: Friday, January 11, 2008 12:00 am

Following state funding cuts, UF students may have to take the summer off whether they like it or not.

The Florida Legislature has slashed funding from the state's public universities for a second time, bringing UF's total budget cuts from about ,34 million to about ,40 million. The short change stems from property tax shortcomings.

UF President Bernie Machen has mentioned cutting summer classes as a possible solution to UF's financial woes, said Steve Orlando, UF spokesman.

Reducing the amount of buildings used over the summer would save on energy costs, he said.

"No decision has been made yet, but everything is on the table," Orlando said.

He said a date has not been set for a final decision, and no cuts can be made for this semester since it has already begun.

"We're going to have to look beyond that, which is why summer school comes into play," Orlando said.

He said Machen understands that limiting summer classes would slow UF students trying to graduate earlier.

In addition, incoming students expecting to start school during summer may have to change their plans, he said.

"We want to avoid that, but at the same time, these are unusual times," he said. "This is a really serious situation."

Willard Harrison, emeritus dean of UF's College of Liberal Arts and Science and a chemistry professor, has seen similarly severe cuts in his 10 years at UF.

"It does happen every so often," Harrison said. "We had a terrible one (budget cut) in the '90s."

He said cuts are inevitable, and administrators will have to choose which classes and programs are least essential.

"It's always a bad thing to cut summer budget," he said. "I'm glad I don't have to make those tough decisions."

Harrison said these cuts, since they are the second batch for UF this year, seem to be worse than those in the '90s.

"Once you've absorbed one cut, the one coming after that is a real bleeder," Harrison said. "You just don't have any place to turn for support."

Other universities in Florida are also having problems.

Barry Ray, Florida State University spokesman, said FSU would have a Board of Trustees meeting Friday to decide how to deal with their impending cuts, which are expected to be two or three times larger than the ,12.5 million budget trim they faced in October. He said FSU President T.K. Wetherell is worried about how deep the cuts will be to affect the State University System.

"I think it's safe to say he's very concerned about the severity of these cuts and the possibility that it will do lasting damage to our university and the State University System," Ray said.

Welcome to the discussion.