Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Universities fulfill second chunk of Alexander's data request

TAMPA — Florida's universities can produce lengthy essays on deadline.

They proved it Tuesday when they released almost 5,000 pages in response to a massive data request by state Sen. JD Alexander.

Alexander, R-Lake Wales, asked for the information after the Florida Board of Governors voted to delay the University of South Florida Polytechnic's quest to become independent. Alexander had pushed hard for an immediate split.

The information released Tuesday touches on everything from funding cuts to pay raises, executive travel to donations.

But the answers aren't as direct as the questions.

Take Alexander's request for a list of vendors who have donated money to Florida's 11 public universities. The schools provide lists of vendors, and they provide lists of donors. But they leave it up to Alexander to connect the dots, explaining that the business and fundraising operations of the universities are separate functions.

That separation is important "to avoid any appearance of impropriety," USF officials said in their response.

A few months ago, Alexander raised questions about a donation made to USF by the contractor of its new USF Poly campus in Lakeland. After winning a $46 million bid, Skanska made a $1 million donation to USF, to be paid over 10 years.

Both USF and Skanska defended the gift, telling the Tampa Bay Times that the campus project contract was the result of an in-depth public bidding process and the donation had nothing to do with it.

Whether that answer, and the slew of others, satisfies Alexander remains to be seen. Next week state university system chancellor Frank Brogan will present them all in person to the Senate budget committee, which Alexander chairs.

Alexander did not return a request for comment Tuesday.

Here is some other information the universities provided:

• Travel by university presidents varies widely, from more than $100,000 in trips by University of Florida president Bernie Machen to just a few thousand dollars' worth by the presidents of smaller schools, like New College and the University of North Florida. The funding sources vary, too, with some trips paid with state dollars but many big excursions paid with university foundation money or private donations.

• Recent state funding reductions led to considerable belt tightening by universities. The measures included suspended or canceled programs, consolidated operations on the campuses and among nearby institutions, and energy savings.

• Pay raises for university employees were minimal, averaging 2 to 3 percent last year. And they came after a year or two of flat pay.

• The state university system is seeking $3.99 billion in the next legislative session, a 14.8 percent increase over last year's appropriation. The two major reasons for the increase are $150 million requested for the board's New Florida initiative, which supports university projects aimed at economic development, and $283 million for a major gift matching program that hasn't been funded in several years.

Kim Wilmath can be reached at or (813) 226-3337.

Universities fulfill second chunk of Alexander's data request 01/03/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 3, 2012 8:54pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Calvary Christian routs Pensacola Christian to win state baseball title


    FORT MYERS — Calvary Christian left no doubt as to which baseball team in Class 4A was the best in Florida this season. The Warriors defeated Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium to claim the school's first state championship in any team sport. It also solidified a perfect 30-0 …

    Matheu Nelson of Calvary Christian celebrates scoring on a wild pitch during the first inning.
  2. Mayor: Men stabbed after anti-Muslin rant died as 'heroes' (w/video)


    PORTLAND, Ore. — Police said Saturday they'll examine what appears to be the extremist ideology of an Oregon man accused of fatally stabbing two men who tried to intervene when the suspect yelled racial slurs at two young women who appeared to be Muslim on a Portland light-rail train.

    A sign of thanks rests against a traffic light pole at a memorial outside the transit center on Saturday in Portland, Ore. [Associated Press]
  3. Numerous lapses add up to frustrating Rays loss to Twins

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — While the Rays made some good defensive plays, threw a couple of big pitches when they needed to and got a few, and just a few, key hits, there were some obvious things they did wrong that led to them losing Saturday's game to the Twins 5-3:

    Rays reliever Tommy Hunter says the Twins’ tiebreaking homer came on a pitch that was “close to where I wanted it.”
  4. Why the Lightning would consider trading Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — This summer, the Lightning could trade one of its most dynamic young players ever.

    Wing Jonathan Drouin could be the only piece that Tampa Bay has to acquire a badly needed top-tier defenseman.
  5. Ryan Hunter-Reay running strong as he seeks a second Indianapolis 500 title

    Auto racing

    Ryan Hunter-Reay isn't a big jewelry fan.

    Ryan Hunter-Reay, who won Indy in 2014, is a contender for a second title in today’s 101st running. He qualified 10th, had the third-fastest practice lap and his team is looking strong.