Gov. Charlie Crist’s decision to reverse his position on the tuition differential bill sent university administrators across the state applauding the first term governor last week. However, what looks to be a breath of fresh air for President Judy Genshaft is causing a general sense of discord among some USF undergraduates.
Genshaft thanked the Legislature and Gov. Crist for “their wisdom in creating and improving the new tuition differential program,” adding that students at USF will continue to receive a “high quality education.”
“This new program will allow Florida’s three premier research universities (USF, UF and FSU) to address fundamental issues of quality by providing smaller class sizes, more professors, more required course offerings and more support services, including advisers to help our students succeed,” Genshaft said in the release.
“Student success is the bottom line and always remains our principal focus.”
Some students around campus are in disbelief that a tuition increase will directly benefit them based on Genshaft’s predictions. A few students even went so far as to relate future tuition increases to another potential salary raise for Genshaft, such as the one she received earlier this year.
“As long as it isn’t going to Genshaft’s paycheck,” said Kristina Schroeder, a senior management major.
Ashley Hodges, a senior biology and environmental science major, credited Gov. Crist for listening to university officials but said she is doubtful as to whether the tuition differential program will actually benefit the college.
“If it’s better for the school I guess we have to do it,” she said.
University spokesman Ken Gullette said he didn’t understand why students were so skeptical about a bill that could potentially improve their college experience, saying that students shouldn’t begrudge the president for receiving a deserved pay increase.
“I might guess that when I was a student that I was skeptical too, but this bill is in place to help undergraduates,” he said. “It’s definitely there to help.”
Gullette said the administration is very interested in putting in place strategies over the years to boost that quality. Even though Genshaft has repeatedly commented on how the differential program will benefit research facilities, Gullette stressed the importance of establishing a good undergraduate program in order to gain a highly accredited research program.
“We have a desire to be seen as a top research facility, and the undergraduate system is a key part to that,” he said. Senior civil engineering student Joe Koteiche said the University should start with hiring better professors.
“We have decent programs at this university, but a lot of the good programs are not getting enough money,” he said.
Gullette said that is something the differential program will take care of.
“I can assure you that they (the administration) want students to graduate and want people to hire them when they get into the work place,” he said. “They’re trying their hardest.”