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Genshaft addresses state funding, five-year strategic plan

Also, Roy Weatherford, president of USF’s chapter of the United Faculty of Florida, announces his decision not to seek re-election.

USF ranks third in Florida in allocated Projected Education and Capital Outlay (PECO) funds, according to USF President Judy Genshaft.

At the USF faculty senate meeting Wednesday, the University’s future became a focal point as Genshaft laid out the basics of a state-funding package for the next academic year, while continuing the conversation on the new five-year strategic plan.

For the 2007-08 school year, USF is allocated about $74.5 million – the University of Florida will receive approximately $95 million and Florida State University $85 million.

“Overall, we think we did well,” Genshaft said. “Could we have done better? Well, overall, we did well.”

Of the total amount, $10 million will be earmarked for maintaining infrastructure. According to Genshaft, the funds will be dispersed by the Physical Plant to maintain current buildings, with specific amounts dedicated for certain projects. She used roof maintenance as an example.

Also, $14.8 million will help fund the new Visual and Performing Arts Center, while $35.4 million will be used to support the construction of a new interdisciplinary science building.

According to Genshaft, $1.7 million will be used toward building a Lakeland campus, and $9 million will go to USF St. Petersburg to help fund new general science and chemistry buildings.

Faculty senate facilities committee chair Steven Tauber expressed his concerns about some of the maintenance issues in the existing arts and sciences buildings, referring to odd smells and the lack of hot water in the Social Sciences building.

The Strategic Plan

During Genshaft and Provost Renu Khator’s monthly address to the body, the pair focused on the practical aspects of a plan that will guide USF’s policy for the next five years.

The expressed goal is setting USF on track for admittance to the prestigious Association of American Universities.

Unlike the series of recent town-hall meetings, the pair focused more on the process for the plan rather than the specifics.

Genshaft explained the next step in the process is a vote by the Board of Trustees on the plan’s general framework. Then each campus will draft its own, smaller strategic plan as part of the greater USF Master Plan.

Khator, however, focused on what she called the “sticker shock” of the strategic plan. Administrators will now look into the cost and funding options concerning the overall price of poising the school for admission into the AAU.

“I think it’s about time that we spend a little time thinking about what kind of investments we are talking about,” Khator said. “I never heard in a town-hall meeting – at least on (the) Tampa campus – (at which) there was any resistance at all (for the goal of AAU admittance).”

Changing of the guard

Those attending the meeting also bore witness to United Faculty of Florida chapter President Roy Weatherford’s last address to the body as chapter president.

Weatherford – who will retire from the University in January – announced that he had chose not to run for renewal as chapter president, and that Sherman Dorn will take over the position April 1.

“I thought about making a ceremonial departure by making a speech, and after about 10 minutes, I was so swamped by pomp and clichés that I decided to give up on the whole idea,” Weatherford said. “I am unhappy to tell you that I will not have the pleasure of reporting the successful closure of our third year of bargaining.”

In regards to the ongoing labor negotiations between UFF and the USF administration, Weatherford conveyed hisconcern that impasse may be close at hand but said a meeting is scheduled for Monday, during which UFF hopes to cement pay rates for the summer term.

“I’m not inclined to yield, not because of money but because of principle, so it may be we will reach impasse,” Weatherford said.

Though the negotiations have been tumultuous and Weatherford has sometimes been an outspoken critic of the administration, he still maintained a level of levity and expressed his love for USF.

“I want to reassure people that I thoroughly love this University,” Weatherford said. “I’ve enjoyed my time here, I value my colleagues, I like some of my students, I enjoy very much being a professor and would not have chosen another career path even if I would have ended up solvent instead of bankrupt.”