TITLE: A Budget Message from President Machen
” Dear University of Florida Student:
Every college and administrative unit across campus has been engaged over
the past few weeks in identifying $38.2 million in spending reductions
necessary to meet our FY 2012-13 budget. After five years of cuts, we
have lost almost 25 percent of University of Florida┬ state support.
Finding the necessary cost savings has been increasingly difficult each
year. This year is the most challenging yet as we work to do more with
less and make the cuts in such a way as to preserve the quality of
education at the University of Florida.
The key to educational quality is our faculty. In the past, we have on
occasion relied on across-the-board spending reductions distributed among
all the colleges and their departments, as well as administrative units.
If we tried this approach again this year, the result would be significant
faculty layoffs in several colleges.
With a goal of maintaining educational quality, Dean Cammy Abernathy and
Provost Joe Glover developed a plan for the College of Engineering that
would have preserved our excellent teaching faculty.
As many of you know, the proposal has been met with overwhelming negative
response, much of which I believe has been based on misunderstanding.
Nonetheless, it is clear that the University of Florida must figure out a
way to make it through these financially difficult times in a productive
manner. I am optimistic we can do that.
This week, the chairmen of the departments of Computer and Information
Science and Engineering and Electrical and Computer Engineering have come
forward together with a framework of a new proposal that would help meet
the college┬ budget target. It also would address issues raised during
recent discussions, namely, clarify and enhance degree offerings while
preserving the research mission in both computer science and computer
engineering, achieve efficiency in teaching and bring faculty workloads in
line with other departments of the college.
“We are currently working on a plan for a joint organization of these two
departments into a larger unit. I feel strongly that this is the best
opportunity for the two departments moving forward,” said Gerhard Ritter,
interim chair of CISE.
John Harris, chairman of the department of ECE, said he is encouraged by
the long-term possibilities.
“I believe that successful implementation of this plan would be
beneficial not only to the future of computer science but also to
electrical and computer engineering,” Harris said.
Engineering Dean Abernathy has agreed to set aside the previously
announced proposal as the department chairmen of CISE and ECE continue to
flesh out details of a new proposal in consultation with students,
faculty, staff, alumni and industry partners. The college has no plans to
close any departments.
“I applaud the leadership and vision of Dr. Ritter and Dr. Harris and am
dedicated to reaching a resolution as expeditiously as possible to ensure
the best opportunities are before us for our college,” Abernathy said.
Dean Abernathy has worked tirelessly on this very difficult budget
challenge, and I commend her for her dedicated efforts to find the best
Some have suggested that the university use its “unrestricted assets” or
“reserves” to cover the reductions. That is not a viable option for the
University of Florida.
We spent nearly $30 million of reserves last year to avoid having to make
difficult budget decisions. We were optimistic in an economic recovery
that would stave off reductions this year. Unfortunately, we are facing
even larger cuts now because we failed to make needed budget adjustments
At the same time, a severe backlog of facilities maintenance caused by the
elimination of state support has the university on the precipice of
crisis. We must maintain sufficient reserves to manage unexpected expenses
associated with air conditioning system failures, roof leaks or other
major outages that could put buildings out of commission and cost millions
Additional budget reduction proposals are expected to be brought forth in
other colleges in coming weeks. I know finding the necessary savings after
years of budget cutting will be difficult.
I ask the faculty, students, and the administration of all colleges to
work in partnership to identify the savings and keep the colleges on track
in their quest for continued excellence in education and research. “