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USF cuts Tampa campus' budget

Months after the university underwent millions of dollars in budget cuts, the University of South Florida has to cut more money from the Tampa campus budget.

The cuts, $1.4-million this year and $1.6-million next year, really amount to a shift of money from the main campus to the regional campuses. Evidently USF and other Florida universities erred late last year by making cuts across the board. They should have done more to spare the regional campuses, according to a recent memo from the head of the state Division of Colleges and Universities.

The memo went out after interim Chancellor Carl Blackwell spoke with Republican Sen. Don Sullivan of St. Petersburg earlier this month about the intent of the Legislature in ordering the budget cuts. Days later Blackwell sent out the memo to USF and five other university presidents effectively ordering the shift of dollars.

Genshaft said she and "all the presidents were quite surprised by this decision."

"I wanted to be sure, after what happened last year, that nothing was done to slight any of the regional campuses," Genshaft said, referring to an effort last year by Sullivan to give the USF St. Petersburg campus more independence. "We'll do what we've been asked to do, and we'll do it fairly."

The change means an extra $812,418 to the St. Petersburg campus this year, along with $957,196 next year.

"It's a good problem to have," said USF St. Petersburg CEO Bill Heller. "But you don't want to be taking from the main campus."

Genshaft vowed not to affect academic programs and libraries at the Tampa campus. She said it's too early to say precisely what would be cut.

Noting that the memo went out on March 13 and the funding shifts had to be approved by March 22, Trustee Michael Griffin asked, "Is that normal for state government?"

Genshaft paused, then responded: "It happens."

"I'm not sure it's normal either," said board chairman Dick Beard. "But it is what it is."