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Survey shows majority of Poly union not in favor of split

Results from a survey conducted by USF’s chapter of the United Faculty of Florida (UFF) union show a majority of USF Polytechnic faculty union members are not in favor of separating from the USF System.

According to a UFF press release, 35 of the 61 faculty and professionals who represent UFF took part in the survey. Of the 35, 27 said they did not support a split. There are 249 total faculty and staff members at the Lakeland campus.

One of the four questions asked was whether employees were “consulted or solicited by the USF Polytechnic administration regarding your professional opinion relative to USF Polytechnic becoming the 12th independent (Florida) university.” Of the 35 responses, 33 said “no.”

The survey solicited comments such as, “It seems to me that … the majority of the information we receive is via the newspapers” and “as a faculty member who was supposed to help shape the future of this university, I have had no real input in anything of consequence.”

UFF USF System Chapter President, Paul M. Terry said the “results and comments speak for themselves.”

“It is very obvious that a large percentage of the USF Polytechnic in-unit faculty and employees value their employment with the USF System,” he said in a statement. “Additionally, it appears that a good number of the in-unit faculty and professional employees no longer have confidence in the USF Polytechnic administration to act in their best interest regarding their professional future and careers. Given the in-unit faculty and professional employees (who) overwhelmingly stated they have not been consulted by any USF Polytechnic administrator for input on this issue is of great concern.”

On Oct. 24, Regional Chancellor Marshall Goodman released his business plan for the USF-offshoot’s transition to independence. The plan will be presented at the Board of Governors (BOG) meeting in November, where members will decide whether to approve a split.

The plan included investing in residential housing on Polytechnic’s new campus, which will be located near an Interstate 4 exit, with private funds instead of state funds. It also said that, during a transition, it would request that financial aid still be processed by the USF system.

USF Chief Operating Officer John Long responded to the plan with a list of concerns on Tuesday.

According to Long’s email to the BOG, the “review was conducted in the context of core considerations applicable to any university, specifically accreditation and financial aid; students and faculty; and strategic planning and budget.”

In his list of concerns, he said hiring a new financial aid director and creating a global presence was not reflected in the business plan’s projected budget. Long was also concerned that the university is relying on future funds, which have yet to be disbursed, to build facilities and wanted to know what private funds will support residential housing.

USF spokeswoman Lara Wade-Martinez said in an email to The Oracle that the BOG requested that USF look at the business plan, and said Long’s email is not “a formal assessment, it’s a list of concerns, as requested.”

USF Polytechnic spokeswoman Samantha Lane said in an email to The Oracle that USF Polytechnic is, “uncertain what version (of the plan the) USF System is responding to, as it appears it may have been an earlier draft. However, we are happy to sit down with them and provide any clarification needed.”