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Bense addresses budget cuts at meeting

University of West Florida President Judy Bense held a town-hall meeting in the Commons Auditorium on
March 29 to discuss the non-recurring budget cut to the University of $11.9 million for the 2012/2013 fiscal year, passed by the Florida Legislature.

Bense said, “I will tell you that the 11 presidents of the State University System are going to do what we can in the legislature next year to make sure that the legislators keep their word that this is a one-time non-recurring cut.”

The cut comes as part of a $300 million reduction in state funding for Florida’s State University System. UWF received the eighth largest cut out of the 11 universities.

The legislature used a formula for determining the cuts based on how much state funds each university had in its reserves.

Bense said, “They decided that they were going to force the universities to spend their carry forward.”

Bense announced that the University will be exploring ways to make up for the budget cut and outlined three possible models for dealing with the reduction in funds.

The first was to use the approximate $30 million UWF has in leftover state funds, known as carry-forward funds, to fill in the budget holes.

The next option announced was for each university division to come up with its own ways to cover the reduction. The third option was a hybrid of the first two.

A “listening team” has also been appointed to seek other ways to deal with the cuts.

The listening team consists of: Susan Stephenson, UWF’s chief budget officer; Colleen Asmus, UWF’s controller; Betsy Bowers, UWF’s auditor; Associate Provost George Ellenberg; and John Todorovich and Richard Hough to represent the faculty chairs and Faculty Senate respectively.

Kim Brown, Bense’s chief of staff, said in an email to The Voyager, “The listening team’s job is to seek other models and hear what people think about the models.”

Stephenson said in an email to The Voyager, “All of us, the president, faculty, and staff, remain committed to finding the best way to handle this reduction from the legislature while continuing to provide high-quality education for our students and services for our region.”

Bense also announced a 15 percent rise in differential tuition costs to be approved by the Board of Governors and the Board of Trustees and a 2 percent salary raise for UWF faculty and staff members.

“We need to reduce our reliance on carry forward,” Bense said. “What we really need to do is continue our purposeful growth and develop new sources of revenue. That is going to be our formula for success.”

Besides the proposed hotel and conference center, Bense announced other new sources of revenue such as displaying advertisements by constructing a large digital billboard near UWF’s east entrance and installing flat-screen TVs to be placed across campus in high-traffic areas.

“I believe in is listening to other people’s ideas,” Bense said. “If you have ideas or suggestions please give them to us.”

Ideas and suggestions can be sent via email to budgetsuggestions@uwf.edu.

W. Paul Smith
Opinons Editor 

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