USF requests funds to help finish two projects

USF requested $14 million for the Morsani College of Medicine dowtown and $9 million for the Interdisciplinary Sciences building at the Board of Governors Facilities Committee meeting Tuesday. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE/ USF.EDU

On behalf of USF, President Judy Genshaft and Senior Vice President David Lechner requested about $14 million in Public Education Capital Outlay (PECO) funds from the Board of Governors (BOG) Facilities Committee on Tuesday to help complete the Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Health Institute downtown.

This request will specifically aid in funding the addition of two floors to the building.

Over $9 million was also requested to help finish the build-out of lab space in the Interdisciplinary Sciences (ISA) building on the Tampa campus, but the downtown project is still the top priority, according to USF’s presentation.

“We have to invest in projects such as this (downtown project) if we’re going to begin to attract NIH (National Institutes of Health) grants and other things,” committee member Edward Morton said at the meeting. “It takes the development of projects that develop synergy.”

According to a fact sheet put out by the BOG, PECO is used to fund new teaching and research facilities along with maintaining existing buildings.

The BOG will consider USF’s request along with the requests from other universities within the state university system (SUS) and will create a list of prioritized projects. This list will then be considered and reviewed at the Nov. 6 BOG meeting, and, if adopted, will be submitted as a part of the SUS legislative budget request.

According to Florida TaxWatch, “allocations for capital outlays are decided based on three‐year and five‐year plans. The three‐year plan takes funding into consideration, whereas the five‐year plan is simply an assessment of everything the university believes it needs over the next five years without regard to funding.”

A statewide three-year plan is what’s submitted to the Legislature after being reviewed by the Council of Presidents and approved by the BOG.

University spokesperson Adam Freeman wrote in an email to The Oracle that USF has already received about $97 million in state funding for the project.

In 2017, USF requested a little over $21 million for this current academic year but was only approved for $7 million for the project. In 2016, about $33 million was requested, with $12 million approved.

The ISA lab build-out PECO requests in 2016 and 2017 were not approved, although the university has found other sources of funding thus far.

Facilities Committee Chair  H. Wayne Huizenga, Jr. asked Genshaft if USF could continue to find other sources of funding, like “carry forward” money for the project. Genshaft said using carry forward money — money in the prior year’s budget that wasn’t spent — could be a good option.

“Once again we find ourselves — declining funding last year and this year the big storm and everything else,” Huizenga said. “It’s like ‘wow our state’s doing great, our schools are doing amazing,’ but yet there are still so many asks upon the resources.”