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Monday, May 23, 2022

UF has accomplished a lot this semester.

Kent Fuchs was officially inaugurated as UF’s 12th president, the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering received a $50-million donation and UF received a record of $707 million in research funding.

But there’s still more work to be done.

The goals

UF spokeswoman Janine Sikes said UF’s future will be paved by goals created by President Fuchs’ goal-setting task force, which was created in April.

"While we don’t have quite all the i’s dotted and the t’s crossed, the basic roadmap that President Fuchs is going to follow going forward are the seven goals," she said.

The goals are to increase geographic and ethnic diversity among faculty and students; increase accessibility to education, health resources and faculty mentorships; continue hiring faculty recognized as experts in their fields; increase research and scholarship funds and attract more graduate students; expand UF’s communication with the rest of the world; increase engagement with alumni; and continually update the physical campus, including buildings, labs and residence halls.

Sikes said these goals are critical to making UF a top-10 public university.

"Dr. Fuchs has said we should shoot even higher for top 5," she said.

Construction

Sikes said several major construction projects are either currently underway or will begin in 2016.

UF Health is expected to complete construction on two new hospitals in 2017. Those hospitals are UF Health Heart and Vascular Hospital and the UF Health Neuromedicine Hospital, Sikes said.

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Construction on these facilities, which will be built by Shands Hospital, began in January.

UF received federal funding of about $8 million to begin construction of phase two of UF’s Innovation Hub, located at 747 SW 2nd Ave. Construction will begin in spring for the 50,000-square-foot building, which will adjoin the current structure. Sikes said a number of buildings on campus will undergo renovations. The Stephen C. O’Connell Center will close in March 2016 to begin its $64.5-million renovation.

Newell Hall will be renovated into a study space by Spring 2017, Sikes said. UF is also hoping to acquire $8 million from the state legislature in January for a Norman Hall renovation.

Herbert Wertheim’s gift of $50 million to the College of Engineering may also be used to construct new buildings for the college, Sikes said.

"They have an entire new vision for the college," she said.

Walk Safe

UF is considering adding a golf-cart escort service, where student drivers will pick up and drop off students around campus, said Dean of Students Jen Day Shaw.

This would replace the Walk Safe program that ended at the start of Fall.

"We would like to have something better, whether it’s Walk Safe or Golf Safe," she said.

The idea has only been proposed, she said. There is no cost or timeline if it is implemented.

UF music education and music composition senior Ismael Sandoval escorted students with Walk Safe. He said he’s torn about supporting the proposed program.

"People will take advantage of it just to avoid walking across campus," the 22-year-old said.

A larger endowment

Sikes said UF expects to begin a campaign within a year to raise its endowment, the total amount of money donated to UF. Its current endowment is at about $1.5 billion.

The campaign’s goal is to raise about $3 billion in private funds, which she said will help UF support professors and update classrooms.

The money will also be used for increasing need-based scholarships through the Machen Florida Opportunity Scholars program, Sikes said.

"It’s important that cost not be a barrier to come to the University of Florida," she said.

Contact Alexandra Fernandez at afernandez@alligator.org and follow her on Twitter @alexmfern

Contact Caitlin Ostroff at costroff@alligator.org and follow her on Twitter @ceostroff

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