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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

UF President Bernie Machen said in his State of the University address Thursday that UF needs to focus on ways to build new revenue and preserve its resources - even after budget cuts.

At the first Faculty Senate meeting of the year, he told senators that UF's Florida Tomorrow capital campaign and the Differential Tuition Program are generating millions of dollars for the university, but UF needs to also work on getting students to graduate faster as it receives more applications.

UF had to cut $69 million during the 2007-2008 academic year, because of state revenue shortfalls. About eight faculty and 70 staff members were laid off to meet part of a $47 million cut taken at the beginning of the summer.

Machen told senators that more budget cuts were expected later this year because of the state's "gloomy" economy.

Machen said UF's Florida Tomorrow capital campaign, which aims to raise $1.5 billion by September 2012, has been successful in raising $700 million since its start in 2005. That money is designated by the donor, he added. But UF needs more to make up for its recent losses.

Machen said he hoped members of the Faculty Senate would help him convince the Florida Legislature to tap into its $3 billion "rainy day" fund before hitting UF or other universities with more budget cuts.

That emergency fund is primarily reserved for hurricane relief. If the Legislature decides to use it in UF's favor, Machen said it would be distributed after hurricane season and the November presidential election.

At the end of his speech, Machen said he couldn't say much about the future, only that it will be "devastating" if they do not recognize the need to help Florida's universities.

For now, the $1.8 million generated from the Differential Tuition Program, which allows UF to incrementally raise tuition 40 percent over four years starting with this fall's freshman class, will be enough to hire 17 to 22 new faculty members for the 2009-2010 academic year.

Steve Orlando, UF spokesman, said that money would also be used this school year for temporary lecturers and starting searches for new faculty hires.

A 6 percent tuition boost from the state Legislature and the 9 percent boost from UF will increase UF's tuition by 15 percent this fall.

Machen said the program's start was delayed for the 2008-2009 year, and instead, the Legislature gave UF $2 million to hire 15 to 20 new faculty members for the 2007-2008 academic year.

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He said the program was established to raise money intended for hiring more faculty members in courses and colleges that are in high demand from students.

Part of the deal was committing to seek student input, Machen added.

UF Provost Joe Glover said he will decide what specific areas the $1.8 million would go to after he receives student suggestions through Student Government officials next week and sorts through them with the long "wish lists" sent in by college deans.

Student Body President Kevin Reilly said members of Student Senate representing each college or area on campus would collect suggestions from students about how to spend the money for faculty.

"There's a lot of need," Reilly said. "Some colleges need more than others."

The freshman class paying the first round of the Differential Tuition Program is also one of the smartest, with averages scores of 1293 on the SAT and a 4.18 GPA, Machen told the faculty.

UF's application process will continue to get more selective with fewer resources and a higher number of intelligent students applying, he said.

This year, Machen said UF had a 16 percent increase in applicants, which brought in its highest-ever number of applications - 28,000.

At 39 percent, it's UF's lowest acceptance rate ever.

One way Machen said he hopes to get every UF student to take at least 15 credit hours each semester instead of the current average, which is less than 13 credit hours, to graduate faster.

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