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Tuesday, February 07, 2023

Cuts to matching funds may stall UF construction projects

With Gov. Charlie Crist's proposal to cut state funds for university building projects, several brand-new buildings under construction at UF might remain the newest buildings for a while.

According to a press release from the Florida Board of Governors, Crist has proposed cutting ,34 million from the Courtelis matching program.

The program funds much of UF's on-campus construction by using state funds to match the amount of private donations given to UF.

Paul Robell, the UF Foundation's vice president for development and alumni affairs, said any reduction in funds to the Courtelis program would hinder both private donations toward future construction and construction itself.

"It would have a major impact on future donations because we can't guarantee that our funds are going to be matched," he said.

Robell said the program makes it easier to recruit donors because they only have to give half the money needed for a project since the other half is guaranteed to come from the Courtelis grants.

The program, which Robell called one of the best matching programs in the country, is necessary to construction at UF, he said.

According to the foundation's records, 10 major construction and renovation projects were matched by Courtelis funds in 2006, with the combined private and matching funds totaling about ,23.4 million.

The George M. Steinbrenner Band Hall, the Moot Courtroom at the Levin College of Law, and the Bob Graham Center in Pugh Hall for Public Service, were among the top-funded construction projects.

"There are no other monies," Robell said. "If there is no match, the projects likely will be delayed because of lack of funding."

Phyllis Delaney, director of development for the Harn Museum, said the matching funds are crucial to a prestigious grant the museum recently received from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The museum requested the grant in order to renovate the storage space for priceless objects and improve storage conditions.

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If the Courtelis funds are cut this year, she said, the museum might have to find another ,150,000 from private donors in order to maintain its national grant.

"We have to raise money day and night, so having something that you think is going to happen backfire on you means that you have to go back to the drawing board a little bit," Delaney said.

She said the prospect of the Courtelis funds being cut is concerning the entire university as well as the Harn museum.

The effects would be devastating, she added.

"It really is so important that the state recognizes that people are very responsive to knowing that what they're giving will be matched by the state," she said. "It validates what they're giving to."

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