President Judy Genshaft addressed the public via a video at usf.edu over the weekend to provide an update on USF’s budget situation. The constrictions, based on the trickle down effect started by the state’s budget shortfall, will likely affect every aspect of USF on some level throughout the year.
Administrators who already have the unenviable task of ensuring that one of the nation’s largest universities continues to improve academically with less money must now examine which programs and projects need to be shelved.
Hopefully administrators will create a strict guideline to prevent the 15-percent budget cut from interfering with the research that could produce tangible products that could greatly improve USF and society.
An example of one of these projects is a prosthetic knee, which was tested by USF’s School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitative Sciences in November. The knee not only pushes the envelope of prosthetic limb technology, but will be used to examine arthritis and other common ailments.
An article in today’s Oracle details another major research project at USF. Dr. Emanuel Donchin leads a group of researchers seeking to provide relief for those suffering from ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The research studies brainwaves that could allow those no longer able to move their bodies to interact with a computer program which would allow them to control a robotic arm.
When USF administrators announced they wanted to become a premier research university, it was projects like this that they were expecting to produce. The research includes a lot of work done by students.
“It provides a fertile ground for grad students to work with investigators and researchers,” said Dr. Abdul Rao, senior associate vice president of research at USF Health.
Not only is this a remarkable educational opportunity, it is a project that will greatly benefit society.
There are also non-research programs at USF that are doing the community a great service, and USF should seek to protect them during budget cuts. USF’s Veteran Services Office provides much needed assistance to students who have served in the military.
While many difficult decisions are being presented to the administration, it should take every measure to ensure that the research projects and services doing the greatest good for the University and the community do not become victims of state-mandated budget cuts.