UF announced a halt in deliberations on the planned construction of a West Palm Beach graduate campus in a Tuesday morning email to the campus community.
“As Florida's flagship university and a land-grant institution, UF is committed to being a unifying presence throughout the state and does not want to divide communities we aim to serve,” the statement read.
The decision comes after a feud with Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene, who, in early 2022, pledged to donate five acres of land for the satellite campus.
Greene told the Palm Beach Post UF originally offered to name the campus after him in a non-binding letter of intent. UF allegedly then changed the offer to only naming the first building after him.
In August, the Florida legislature approved $100 million in funding for the campus, contingent on the donation of 12 acres of land in the county and an additional $100 million in other funding. Without meeting these conditions, the $100 million from the state would be reallocated elsewhere in the state.
UF President Ben Sasse announced Feb. 7 a plan to build a new graduate campus in Jacksonville, intended to be completed simultaneously with the West Palm Beach campus.
In subsequent negotiations, Greene’s requirements for donating the land changed. On the condition of his donation, he requested enrollment of at least 700 students. Without meeting the conditions, the land would return to Greene’s ownership.
After refusing this offer in October, UF shifted its approach to buying the land from Greene with an offer of $45 million that Greene ultimately refused. He agreed to sell it on the condition he could buy the proximate Publix owned by fellow donor Stephen Ross, owner of the Miami Dolphins, but Ross refused due to a prior agreement to tear down the Publix.
Greene has never been invited to speak with Sasse, he said, which insulted him.
In UF’s statement, the university addressed the need to take a look at “any possible South Florida graduate campus” and will reexamine the possibility of the West Palm Beach campus within the next six months.
Contact Peyton at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @peytonlharris.
Peyton Harris is a first-year English major and the News Assistant for The Alligator. She is also a member of Zeta Tau Alpha and spends her free time re-listening to Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers and binging Criminal Minds.