Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Florida universities' wishes to expand take a hit from dwindling state support

MIAMI — Running through every discussion among the Florida Board of Governors on Wednesday was the dismal undercurrent of shrinking state support.

Naturally, board members talked about the downward trend when they considered the state university system's legislative budget requests. The issue was hammered home more on universities' construction and maintenance projects. It hung like a cloud over proposals to create two dental schools and expand an existing one.

And it will likely be front and center when the board reconvenes today for the second part of its meeting, taking place at Florida International University.

A big chunk of Wednesday's talks focused on the legislative budget requests for the upcoming session, which total $3.99 billion — a 14.8 percent increase over current appropriations. That's mostly because of two items: $150 million for the New Florida initiative, a program aimed at utilizing higher education as an economic driver; and $238 million for a major gift matching program, which may prove a tough sell to strapped state leaders.

Aside from all that is PECO, or Public Education Capital Outlay funding. That's the money universities use to build new educational buildings and update existing ones. Wednesday's discussion left little doubt as to which of those options would be prioritized.

State university system chancellor Frank Brogan compared the situation to triage.

"You take the bleeders first," Brogan said. "While I love new buildings … when it comes to the issue of repairs and maintenance, in a triage, that's our bleeder."

Then there was this observation from board member John Temple: "I wish we would have known it would be this bad when we approved all that money for USF Polytechnic," he said. "We've got to finish what we started."

The sentiment hung in the air during presentations by Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University and the University of Central Florida, whose leaders both want to build dental schools. The University of Florida, the only state university with such a school, told the board it wants to expand.

The plans are not yet ready for a vote, as questions remain: Does Florida need more dentists? In light of the fix-what-you've-got-now philosophy echoed by the board on Wednesday, is now the right time to build?

Today's hot topic will be USF Polytechnic, which got $35 million in PECO funds last year for a new campus. It was the only new university building project that was not vetoed by Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

This summer a group of Polk County business and civic leaders (including J.D. Alexander, the powerful state Senate budget chairman who championed the money for the new building) asked the Board of Governors to consider splitting the Lakeland campus off from the USF system. Today USF Poly's regional chancellor, Marshall Goodman, will give a presentation on what makes the campus unique.

Kim Wilmath can be reached at [email protected]

Charlie Reed, chancellor of the California state university system, was chancellor of Florida's university system when Florida Gulf Coast was born. It took six years and tens of millions of dollars to complete. The Times spoke to Reed about his thoughts on the potential split of the University of South Florida Polytechnic campus in Lakeland from the USF system.

Florida universities' wishes to expand take a hit from dwindling state support 09/14/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 14, 2011 11:22pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. No. 16 USF hangs on at Tulane, off to first 7-0 start

    College

    NEW ORLEANS — After half a season of mismatches, USF found itself in a grudge match Saturday night.

    USF quarterback Quinton Flowers (9) runs for a touchdown against Tulane during the first half of an NCAA college football game in New Orleans, La., Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Derick E. Hingle) LADH103
  2. Lightning buries Penguins (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Those wide-open, end-to-end, shoot-at-will games are a lot of fun to watch, especially when those shots are going in the net. But if the players had their druthers, they would rather have a more controlled pace, one with which they can dictate the action.

    Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Slater Koekkoek (29) advances the puck through the neutral zone during the first period of Saturday???‚??„?s (10/21/17) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Pittsburgh Penguins at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  3. Spain planning to strip Catalonia of its autonomy

    World

    BARCELONA, Spain — The escalating confrontation over Catalonia's independence drive took its most serious turn Saturday as Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain announced he would remove the leadership of the restive region and initiate a process of direct rule by the central government in Madrid.

    Demonstrators in Barcelona protest the decision to take control of Catalonia to derail the independence movement.
  4. Funeral held for soldier at center of political war of words (w/video)

    Nation

    COOPER CITY — Mourners remembered not only a U.S. soldier whose combat death in Africa led to a political fight between President Donald Trump and a Florida congresswoman but his three comrades who died with him.

    The casket of Sgt. La David T. Johnson of Miami Gardens, who was killed in an ambush in Niger. is wheeled out after a viewing at the Christ The Rock Church, Friday, Oct. 20, 2017  in Cooper City, Fla. (Pedro Portal/Miami Herald via AP) FLMIH102
  5. Chemical industry insider now shapes EPA policy

    Nation

    WASHINGTON — For years, the Environmental Protection Agency has struggled to prevent an ingredient once used in stain-resistant carpets and nonstick pans from contaminating drinking water.

    This is the Dow chemical plant near Freeport, Texas. Before the 2016 election, Dow had been in talks with the EPA to phase out the pesticide chlorpyrifos, which is blamed for disabilities in children. Dow is no longer willing to compromise.