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University Beat

USF Announces $36.7 Million In Budget Cuts

Bulls statues at Marshall Center on USF campus
Carl Lisciandrello
/
WUSF Public Media
The University of South Florida announced a series of cost-cutting measures Thursday after saying that the state is reducing its funding by about $36.7 million.

The cuts, which so far include pay reductions for university leadership and employees in USF Athletics, are driven by a COVID-19-related decline in state taxes and lottery funds. Potential effects on the salaries of faculty and staff have not been announced.

The University of South Florida has announced a series of cost-cutting measures after saying the state is reducing its funding by about $36.7 million.

The cuts reflect an 8.5% reduction in state funds for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2021.

The Florida Board of Governors had earlier requested the state's 12 public universities make plans reflecting such cuts due to declining state tax and lottery revenues because of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as a 10% adjustment for fiscal 2021-2022.

Officials say the future changes will come either through more cuts or finding new revenue sources.

In September, university leaders met with asked leaders of more than 40 different departments, to recommend ways to reduce its budgets. The departments include WUSF Public Media. While the University of South Florida holds WUSF's broadcast license, it maintains editorial independence from the university.

The university is also estimating COVID-19 expenses of about $31 million through Dec. 31. USF has received almost $35 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding.

Among the cost-cutting moves, President Steven Currall is taking a 15% pay reduction, taking his salary from $575,000 to $488,750. Other members of the university's leadership team are taking pay cuts of between 6 and 10%, effective Friday.

The university had already enacted a freeze on hiring and salary increases in September. The Tampa Bay Times reports some faculty members have expressed concerns about potential pay cuts or layoffs.

In addition, new construction, renovation, and deferred maintenance projects have been put on hold where possible.

More specific details have yet to be announced, but the university released a plan Thursday that said where the cuts — which will be complete by June — will tentatively take place.

  • Colleges: reductions of $13.4 million
  • Academic support: reductions of $4.9 million
  • University business support: reductions of $6.5 million
  • USF Health: reductions of $6.9 million
  • USF St. Petersburg campus: reductions of $3.1 million
  • USF Sarasota-Manatee campus: reductions of $1.9 million

University officials warn that further reductions in state funding are possible, depending on how Florida's economy recovers.

Currall released a letter and video to the USF community Thursday, attempting to allay fears, saying USF's enrollment has not seen the COVID-19-related declines other schools have.

"This is a testament to USF’s rapid climb in national reputation, along with the financial investments we’ve made to ensure academic continuity and programs to support our students, faculty and staff throughout the pandemic," Currall said.

However, he did note that the pandemic has affected the number of international and out-of-state students enrolling at USF this year.

Currall also pointed out that USF was ranked first in the state this year for performance-based metrics.

"In the recent past those achievements would have resulted in additional state funding," Currall said in his letter. "State funding, however, was not made available to USF to invest additional dollars in these programs."

At least one department has already released a list of effects of the cuts.

USF Athletics officials announced the elimination of 30 positions and salary reductions or furloughs the equivalent of between 2 and 12.5% for all salaried staff members for the rest of the year.

VP of Athletics Michael Kelly, football coach Jeff Scott, and men's basketball coach Brian Gregory are taking 15% pay cuts.

All athletics staff bonuses and automobile stipends are being suspended as well.

The personnel-related actions will save the athletics department about $2.5 million.