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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

University leaders seek $1-billion more




UPDATE: The university presidents and Chancellor Mark Rosenberg made an appeal for $200-million in additional funding for five years, with some coming from tuition increases but most from the state -- a real challenge given the current state of budget affairs.

The group also pitched an "accord" with the state to demonstrate the benefits (i.e., a certain level of graduates) of more funding. About the time the accord is delivered, in mid March, the Legislature will be, as Rep. Joe Pickens aptly stated, "mired in a budget crisis."

(original post below)

A meeting between House leaders and Florida university presidents is under way and it's shaping up to be a bleak affair.

"This is historic for us, this year," said Florida International University president Modesto Maidique (pictured center). "We're very proud of the system we have built, that our predecessors have built ... but we view the system facing the biggest threat that it has in our history."

Budget cuts, he said, could take as many as 2,500 faculty jobs, further hurting student-teacher ratios and, ultimately, enrollment. "We're talking about closing centers, institutions, telling people we can't accept them. Some are talking about reducing enrollment. We're just keeping them level now."

House Speaker Marco Rubio, who convened the meeting, supports a 5-6 percent tuition increase, as long as more money is devoted to need-based financial aid. But presidents say the Legislature must increase its share, too.

Chancellor Mark Rosenberg estimated that an additional $200-million a year for five years could put Florida "back in the game." The breakdown of that investment -- tuition increases and additional state money -- is the big unknown.

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 1:10pm]


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