BOT ACE committee approves grant application, degree termination

The Academics and Campus Environment committee approved a grant application for UMatter, a postsecondary inclusive education program for students with intellectual disabilities. ORACLE PHOTO/CAMILA GOMEZ

The Board of Trustees’ (BOT) Academics and Campus Environment (ACE) committee approved a grant application for the Eileen Hoffman Hafer UMatter program, an updated Master Plan for ONE USF and the degree termination of the Master’s in foreign language education in a Tuesday morning virtual meeting. 

UMatter is applying for a grant renewal of $2.5 million and five years of program support under the Florida Postsecondary Comprehensive Transition Program and Florida Center for Students with Unique Abilities Act (FCSUA). 

When the program was first launched in 2020, it received a $900,000 grant from the FCSUA and three years of support. The cost of the grant will be financed by the FCSUA and there will be no financial impact to USF.

The program is an inclusive postsecondary education program which provides a way for students with intellectual disabilities to “continue their education, explore careers, integrated competitive employment, and live independently at a college [or] university,” according to the committee’s agenda. Students under the program are eligible for a $15,000 annual scholarship, according to the agenda.

Though currently focused on the St. Pete Campus, there are hopes for the program to expand to the Tampa campus, according to Professor and UMatter Exceptional Student Education Principal Investigator Lyman Dukes. 

Dukes said the program will eventually enroll 20-25 students at the St. Pete campus, with the potential expansion to the Tampa campus further increasing the enrollment. Plans for expansion were not further specified at the meeting. 

The ACE committee also approved an updated ONE USF Master Plan to comply with Florida statutes and Board of Governors (BOG) regulations, which require that each public university update their master plan every five years.

The plan builds upon the foundation of the USF strategic plan and “reinforces” the university’s mission and goals with projects for each campus, according to the committee’s agenda. The new updated plan also reflects the projects USF named in its capital improvement plan (CIP).

Proposed updates for the Tampa campus include the on-campus stadium, a nursing building remodel and expansion, the now completed student health and wellness facility and indoor performance facility, the “conversion of [a] residential building back to [an] academic building” and a proposed research facility on the north side Riverfront Park site, according to Director of Land Use and Planning Ray Gonzalez.

Both the St. Pete and Sarasota-Manatee campuses will see fewer proposed updates with the plan. St. Pete will see the addition of an environmental and oceanographic science teaching facility and the removal of the 3rd St. and 6th Ave. closure, according to the agenda. 

Sarasota-Manatee campus will see the construction of an academic STEM nursing facility, a student center and housing building under the proposed master plan. 

Since the ACE committee approved the updated master plan, the BOT will vote to adopt it at its next meeting on June 13. 

The termination of the Master’s degree program in foreign language education was approved by the ACE committee. Professor and associate dean at the College of Education Ann Cranston-Gingras said despite efforts to improve productivity, the degree program has appeared below the BOG threshold for productivity three times. These efforts included “shifting programs around” in an effort to increase enrollment and graduation rate. 

Because attempts to reinvigorate the program have not been successful, Cranston-Gingras said they will be seeking termination as of spring 2024 and will begin a teach out for the program.

The committee also approved the tenure nominations of 25 professors and tenure as a condition of employment for seven candidates for different colleges in the university.