USF’s budget for the coming school year was approved Thursday, resulting in another tuition hike. Yet, the administration should be commended for fighting an uphill battle against the state Legislature.
The budget cuts, amounting to $12 million, are no cause for celebration. The way the administration is trying to deal with them, however, is, given the circumstances, laudable.
President Judy Genshaft said, “We are not cutting back our academic programs,” which is definitely good news to students pursuing a degree at USF.
It will remain to be seen how availability and quality of classes will be affected, though. Board of Trustees Chairman Dick Beard said there might be more “8 (a.m.) o’clock classes” in the future and more classes “might be taught by the same professors,” but for now, early-morning classes are better than no classes at all.
The increase in the workload of professors, however, will almost certainly have a detrimental effect on the relationship between them and their students. It is already hard to obtain personal responses from some professors, a situation that is unlikely to improve anytime soon.
For many USF students, the increasing burden of tuition will also be a problem. The administration seems to understand these concerns, though, and has tried to retain the status quo on financial aid as well as Bright Futures grants. At least the funding side of the classes will not be a problem for a number of students. But those students who do not receive financial aid, or grants might have a tough time coming up with even more money per-credit-hour.
Of most concern is that even after a 12-year streak of budget cuts and tuition hikes, the situation is unlikely to improve. In the next seven years, the budget will not increase, but dwindle further, as the class size amendment has to be funded. This is hardly an acceptable situation.
While Genshaft’s lobbying efforts improved a situation that could have been even gloomier, lobbying should not stop the university from speaking out against a budget situation that is simply unacceptable in the long run.
The administration, as well as the student body, has to send a clear message to the state Legislature that this has to be remedied. Keeping a low profile is not an option in this case.