President's Report - February 2009
To: All Alumni of the University of South Florida System
From: Judy Genshaft, USF System President
Subject: USF System's Role in the Economy
The University of South Florida System enters 2009 with a firm mandate to be part of rebuilding the economy of our state and nation. Earlier this month I wrote our faculty, staff and told them how deeply proud I am of how they’ve responded to the call to do more with less.
As Alumni, you each share the same mandate. The most important achievement of a university is its graduates. Regardless of where you live, you are part of the culture of new ideas that is the core of higher education. You contribute to the economy; you can turn around a recession; you enhance our quality of life. I am proud of everything you do.
That’s why I’m writing to tell you we will not retreat. Budget pressure means we need to be more disciplined and more focused on our strategic plan. And it means we will continue to argue that investing in higher education is the single best way to stimulate the economy.
Budget cuts to date: Last year, I asked the university’s leadership to prepare for a 15 percent reduction in our budgets supported by state funds. That prediction has now come true. We entered this fiscal year beginning in July 2008 with a 10.6 percent reduction in state general revenue support to the USF System. In January, the Florida Legislature was forced to add an additional 4 percent. In addition, the Special Session mandated cuts to Centers of Excellence and the Energy Consortium.
That 15 percent is now behind us. Through tremendous effort, we managed to make those cuts with a sweep of vacant lines, a reduction in purchasing, and a small number of lay-offs. But we now know the 15 percent cut will not be enough.
Budget cuts to come: We anticipate that the next fiscal year, beginning in July 2009, we will see an additional drop in state support. Estimates of the new year of cuts run as high as 10-15 percent – in addition to the 15 percent we’ve already absorbed. At this time, we do not know how much of a cut we will face in July 2009 for the fiscal year that starts July 1. But we know we must be prepared.
As a result, the USF System must preserve maximum flexibility in meeting our academic goals as we prepare to reduce budgets again. For that reason, I'm implemented a hiring and spending freeze, effective January 23.
Principles for budget cuts: In implementing this hiring and spending freeze, the USF System will continue to make decisions based on the principles we articulated in the spring. My full budget report from 2008 is available here.
In 2008, we agreed to make cuts and investment decisions based on the following principles, in summary:
- To preserve academic excellence;
- To follow the USF strategic plan as a guide;
- To include the entire USF System in the budget planning;
- To ensure that currently enrolled students progress toward timely graduation;
- To apply our best ideas for strategic organization of the university;
- To protect the faculty’s research and innovation activities;
- To secure the financial integrity of the institution;
- To evaluate our academic offerings, and all programs, based on: Quality, Centrality, Demand and Viability;
- To maximize effectiveness in institutional practices;
- And most importantly, to care about the people affected in the process.
These principles have not changed and they will continue to guide us. The University of South Florida System will continue to be the champion of a new economy by producing the intellectual capital of our graduates, our research and our service. We will continue to celebrate the champions of change within our faculty and staff. We will continue to enjoy the success of our students. And we will continue to build the university of the future around a comprehensive plan for excellence.
The challenge is greater than it has ever been. And the need is equally acute. Our shared belief in the strength of this university, and of higher education, will ensure we meet this challenge. Thank you again for everything you do to make the University of South Florida System a great institution and a critical element in the future of our state, country and globe.