UF President Kent Fuchs said he plans to increase the faculty at UF by 500 people within the next few years.

“By hiring 500 faculty, we’ll move from a student-to-faculty ratio of 21-to-1 all the way down to 16-to-1,” he said. “It’ll make our teaching more effective, class sizes smaller and our faculty will have more time to conduct more research.”

The funding for the increase in faculty will cost $52 million, with any additional costs being sought out by other resources, UF spokesperson Steve Orlando said.

“We were fortunate enough to get some funding during this year’s legislative session — $52 million — and the point is that this will be used to accomplish two of our main goals,” Orlando said.

Although the Summer semester has seen the resignation of two top UF employees, Orlando said this did not play a part in the decision to hire new staff.

According to Fuchs, in many of the comparisons done by organizations, such as the Association of American Universities, UF is at the bottom when it comes to its student-to-faculty ratio.

He said the number of students at UF will not grow or decline, so his goal is to grow the faculty to help UF become part of the top five public research universities in the nation.

“I’m very much committed,” he said.

Emphasis will be put on hiring faculty in science, technology, engineering and math professions, as well as areas that focus on economic development and startups, Orlando said.

Along with decreasing the student-to-faculty ratio and having UF become a top research university, Fuchs said he also plans to pay UF employees based on merit and market at the level of UF’s competitors.

“We’re close there, but we’re behind,” he said.

With Florida’s large population, Fuchs said he feels the state needs a university that is ranked highly nationwide.

“We are the highest-ranked university in the state — public or private,” he said, “and I really believe that a state that is No. 3 in population should at least have one university that ranks among the very, very best in the entire world.”