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Variety of Voices Sound off in Opposition to USF Budget Cuts

Professors at some USF branch campuses earn more, on average, than those at the main Tampa campus.

Since the Florida Senate unveiled a budget that could lead to over 100 million dollars in cuts to the University of South Florida, reaction has been fast and furious.

When it came to the Senate's proposed budget, USF Vice Provost for Strategic Planning and Budget, Graham Tobin expected his university to take a hit--but not the kind of wallop the Senate delivered.

"We were anticipating some budget cuts given the mood of the state and the politicians, but the degree of change was significant, and, yes, there was some shock."

In his office Tuesday afternoon, Tobin didn't appear to want to directly say that the cuts were Senate Finance Chairman J.D. Alexander's response to USF President Judy Genshaft's opposition to his efforts on independence for USF Polytechnic. However, he did make an effort to point out the Tampa campus would take almost 20 percent of the total cuts suffered by the 11 schools in the state university system.

"There seems to be no rationale for how this was divided up, it doesn't seem to be proportional to overall budgets, so what rationale was used? We cannot find one."

One person not mincing his words when it came to Alexander was Senator Mike Fasano of New Port Richey.

"When you have one bully in the Florida Senate that takes it upon himself that because he didn't get his way, he's going to punish a great university, I'm outraged. And shame on the Florida Senate and the Florida leadership for allowing these things to happen."

That outrage was echoed on campus by sophomore chemistry major Erin Carrington, who cited recent increases in tuition and fees as an ongoing source of frustration.

"That's already damaging what we can do as far as taking credits or classes or whatever, and that's just going to make people have to stay here longer or drop out of college."

Tobin agreed that such a large cut could lead to difficulties for students.

"We're going to have to cut at least sections and courses, if not programs, and so access for students will be limited."

And while Tobin also said such cuts could possibly lead to layoffs of both faculty and staff, it's far to early to predict such results.

However, he added any such drastic cuts could reverse the growth USF has seen over the last few years.

"We're becoming known not just nationally, but internationally. We've moved into the top 50 of public institutions in many measures. It's sort of depressing to me the fact that this could be undone very, very quickly if we take these very large cuts."

Click HERE for a USF graphic of how the budget cuts would affect the university.

Scott Finn is a former news director at WUSF Public Media, which provides in-depth reporting for Tampa Bay and all of Florida.
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