USF gets break from budget ax but USF Poly students in limbo

5:30 PM, Mar 6, 2012   |    comments
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TAMPA, Florida - A day after sitting down with 10 News to discuss the university's great progress in budget negotiations, USF President Judy Genshaft said the final numbers reflected the "best-case scenario" and were "beyond fair."

The budget compromise, worked out between key members of the state Senate and House, will reduce USF's funding next year by $36.9 million, or 21 percent of the revenue it receives from the state. President Genshaft has indicated much of the toll will be taken on the university's reserves.

But students also fear the university will impose 15 percent tuition hikes to help negate the cuts.

In addition to recent concessions from Senate Budget Chairman JD Alexander, R-Lake Wales, USF supporters in the legislature were able to negotiate several earmarks for the university, Tampa Bay's third-largest employer.

A total of $6.9 million was earmarked for a new Pepin/USF cardiovascular institute.  An additional $1.9 million was set aside for the research-oriented Florida Institute of Oceanography.

Earmarks are subject to the governor's line-item veto pen, which he used on countless earmarks last year.

The deal also all-but-finalizes the creation of the state's 12th university, Florida Polytechnic.  The institution will be built, from scratch, on what was to be the future home of USF Poly.  Also from scratch: efforts to recruit students and faculty as well as the university's accredidation, which could take 3-5 years.

USF's branch campus, previously known as USF Poly, will now become USF Lakeland.  Funding was restored in the proposed budget so all faculty and students could be retained and guaranteed USF degrees if they finish by 2016-2017.  USF Lakeland will not accept any new students after this fall.

Genshaft credited State Representative Seth McKeel, R-Lakeland, for leading the charge to insulate current students from the drama.

Initial reaction around USF's Tampa campus seemed positive Tuesday.  Genshaft, who has developed into a bit of a cult hero among students, said roughly 20,000 letters and e-mails made their way to Tallahassee in support of the university.

Previous USF Coverage:
3/5/12 - USF deal struck, exclusive interview with Genshaft
3/5/12 - USF students fear tuition hikes
3/1/12 - USF contends reserves are spoken for
2/28/12 - Genshaft told Poly accredidation will take 2-4 years
2/27/12 - Alexander actions have some asking why BOG exists
2/27/12 - USF students continue #SaveUSF campaign
2/22/12 -
JD Alexander: from USF cheerleader to USF critic
2/22/12 - Polk Commission upset about being kept in dark
2/21/12 - USF-Poly students fear split
2/20/12 -
Genshaft, Alexander meeting "productive" but secretive
2/20/12 - College student warned of Alexander revenge
2/17/12 - Democrats propose alternative to college cuts
2/16/12 - Gov. Scott tells 10 News he opposes unfair cuts
2/15/12 - Budget cuts live, but ''divorce settlement'' brokered
2/14/12 - 10 News leading charge to #SaveUSF
2/14/12 - High school students impacted by USF attacks
2/14/12 - USF fears "devastating" 58% budget cuts
2/8/12 - JD Alexander pushes "backdoor" path for USF-Poly independence
12/22/11 - Barbs traded over Genshaft's handling of USF-Poly handling
12/20/11 - Genshaft dismisses USF-Poly chancellor
11/10/11 - BOG grants USF-Poly conditional independence
11/7/11 - USF-Poly spends thousands on Star Wars statues
11/3/11 - JD Alexander's bully pulpit

Connect with 10 News Investigator Noah Pransky on Facebook or follow his updates on Twitter. Send your story tips to noah@wtsp.com

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