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USF Faculty Leaders Ask For Halt To Budget Cuts

A picture of the brick sign reading "USF" with flowery landscaping around it.
The University of South Florida is planning budget cuts along with 11 other state universities.

Earlier this month, the USF Faculty Senate published a letter detailing their concerns about planned budget cuts. On Tuesday, the Board of Trustees got a chance to hear those concerns firsthand.

Concerns about proposed budget cuts at the University of South Florida have prompted the Faculty Senate to ask university leadership to halt plans until a long-term solution can be agreed upon.

The State University System of Florida is calling on all its 12 universities to reduce their budgets for the next two fiscal years, in part due to the coronavirus pandemic.

in October, USF announced plans to slash its budget by $93 million over the next two fiscal years.

But at a meeting with the Board of Trustees Tuesday, USF Faculty Senate President Tim Boaz said it’s not clear that there is a big enough budget deficit to warrant such major cuts.

“Cuts of this magnitude over this very short timeframe will require the elimination of academic programs and the laying off of many faculty and staff. These actions will have long-enduring effects on this university.”

Boaz asked for clarity on the state of the USF budget, and weekly meetings with the Board to create a long-term strategic plan.

Richard Manning, philosophy professor and Senate sergeant-at-arms, was among faculty who shared their feelings with trustees.

“One thing we do not understand is why USF in particular is under such pressure to make really enormous cuts — 20 percent (or) thereabouts.”

Some faculty members also spoke about how they were taken by surprise in October when USF announced plans to shutter its College of Education undergraduate programs. Those plans are now being reviewed.

Earlier this month, the Faculty Senate published a letter detailing their concerns.

USF President Steven Currall responded to it at the meeting.

“My team and I are sorry that you had to go to the trouble of writing a letter, but we are grateful for the letter and the articulation of your points in that letter. The university leadership team is committed to being even more transparent and inclusive in our deliberations,” Currall said.

The Board of Trustees plans to hold a budget workshop Friday.

I cover health and K-12 education – two topics that have overlapped a lot since the pandemic began.
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