Tight budget may hurt USF’s growth

While trying to cope with current budget cuts, the Board of Trustees has already submitted legislative budget requests for the subsequent year. As requested by the Florida Board of Education, state universities compiled a wish list of operating requests needed from the state to restore funding.

Among USF’s requests were restoring enrollment-growth funding, funding special units, such as Health Sciences, and funding campus enhancement projects. The list was submitted by the Board on July 25 and approved by the Board of Governors on Aug. 7.

USF President Judy Genshaft said all university presidents agreed that the No. 1 priority for budget requests is to restore funding for enrollment growth.

The Florida Legislature announced when passing a $40-million budget cut that enrollment growth would not be funded at state universities due to a lack of funds.

USF is expecting more than 3,000 new undergraduate full-time students at the Tampa campus alone for the current academic year. And because of continued growth at the graduate level, USF requested that the university’s graduate enrollment be funded at the same level as other Research I institutes.

According to the budget proposal, officials estimate that they would need at least $4 million for the growth.

With that in mind, USF is requesting about $7 million to be funded to special units, such as the Health Sciences Center, to prevent layoffs.

Carl Carlucci, chief financial officer and executive vice president of USF, said Health Sciences hasn’t received enrollment funding for the past few years and have been one of the only two state universities to have layoffs during the last two years because of budget cuts. The University of Florida is the other university that has seen significant cutbacks in its Health Sciences.

Specific proposals requested by USF include $1 million to fund a HSC Technology Center, $2 million to promote research and graduate education programs as well as hiring more faculty, and $300,000 for program expansions at the Lakeland campus.

All requests are required to be submitted to the Legislature by Sept. 17.

Among the budget proposals, USF outlined a list of fixed capital outlay budget requests and bond projects needed for the 2004-05 fiscal year. This includes $29 million for the Marshall Center enhancement project, $12.5 million for a third parking structure and $31.9 million for an interdisciplinary research building.

All bond projects require legislative approval.

PECO funds, which are used toward infrastructure and renovation projects, are among USF’s requests as well.

Carlucci estimated that USF will need at least $24 million for infrastructure and facilities at the St. Petersburg and Lakeland campuses along with remodeling to the Chemistry building at the Tampa campus.

This year $56 million was awarded in PECO funds to be shared by all state universities, and $126 million is expected to be issued next year.

“We got $56 million statewide … so it’s going to be a tough year,” said BOT chairman Dick Beard.