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Saturday, April 17, 2021

UF President Bernie Machen said in an interview Monday that UF would be hiring more faculty, despite a previously announced hiring freeze.

Though Machen declined to comment further, he said he would expand on the issue during his meeting with the Faculty Senate today.

UF administrators are trying to get around the freeze for courses in high demand, said Machen.

"We're going to try to find resources to put more faculty in what I call the pinch courses," Machen said.

UF Provost Janie Fouke said the plan includes spending ,5 million of state money on about five new faculty positions.

"We're continuing the squeeze to try and cut back on other things in order to add faculty," Fouke said. "Students need faculty more than anything."

She also said she hopes UF can squeeze more faculty positions out of the ,5 million.

The frenzy for new faculty is in light of a statewide budget strain, which is forcing all state universities to cut 4 percent of their budgets.

Because the Tuition Differential Program's startup date was pushed to fall 2008, UF must make ,20 million to ,30 million in cuts to its budget in order to break even.

Machen said the money generated by the program's 15 percent tuition increase would still go toward hiring more faculty and staff.

U.S. News & World Report magazine, which published the 2008 university rankings this week, ranked UF behind almost every other national university in the top 50 list for the category of "faculty resources," Machen said.

Because the student-to-faculty ratio is 21-to-1, Machen said he plans to hire new faculty in hopes of balancing UF's high ratio.

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Machen said the No. 1 resource UF needs to become a better university is more faculty.

More faculty means students can take the classes they need, when they need to take them in order to graduate on time, he added.

"I'm willing to accept the responsibility of making it possible for students to take the course when you want to take it and not make you wait."

Along with more faculty teaching positions, Machen said he wants to hire more advisers for students who wander through several majors before settling on one.

"A lot of kids come here with an undeclared major and they need more counseling than if they come in here knowing what they want," Machen said.

He said that to afford new faculty for this year and address the budget cuts, UF launched the Cost Reduction and Efficiency Task Force, led by Kyle Cavanaugh, UF's vice president for human resources.

"The primary issue is to ensure that it doesn't erode the undergraduate experience," Cavanaugh said. "But everything is up for discussion and consideration."

A "host of issues" will be evaluated in the task force, Cavanaugh said, and areas that will be cut will include mostly non-academic budgets.

This may include cutting faculty and staff travel expenses, not filling vacant job positions and cutting costs of replacing equipment, he said.

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