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Provost discusses budget crisis

As Florida faces a financial crisis in the legislative session, the main concern for USF is what will happen during the summer.

At Wednesday’s Faculty Senate executive committee meeting, Provost S. David Stamps said he wants to make sure USF is able to offer the same amount of summer courses as last year. In order to do that, Stamps said, USF will have to find a way to pay the expenses.

“We are suffering from possible budget cuts,” Stamps said. “It doesn’t seem that the state legislature is willing to increase taxes. The primary concern of summer school is faculty salaries.”

Stamps said the university received a certain amount of money from the state to pay salaries. The funds, however, only pay for faculty salaries for a little more than nine months.

“That means we have to generate money for faculty during the summer,” Stamps said. “Tuition brings in about one-fourth of the cost, the other cost comes from general revenue funds.”

Stamps said administration considered running the summer semester independent from all other funds, but in that situation the university would lose any opportunity of bringing in additional general revenue funds.

Stamps said another problem is that a tuition increase is not an enhancement of funds but a replacement.

“The only enhancement we would have is the optional 5 percent,” Stamps said.

Another concern Stamps said the university needs to work on is student retention rates, especially at the undergraduate level. Stamps said he has been reviewing suggestions to help maintain the number of incoming students at USF. Some of those include developing a task force and requiring students to declare a major at the end of their second year.

“Such an issue is not something any one task force can make go away,” Stamps said. “It is something that needs to constantly be looked at.”

Stamps added another way the university plans to retain students at the undergraduate level is to recruit a more academically capable student body and improve academic advising at the university.

Stamps said the university will consider having a professional advising system rather than having faculty advisers.

“Professional advising tends to be more successful in an advanced system. The university could benefit better for knowing the reasons students (leave the university).”