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Finances dominate Staff Senate meeting

Judy Bense, university president, told the University of West Florida’s Staff Senate Tuesday that funds taken from the State University System of Florida in 2012 by the Legislature will soon be returned.

The proposed 2013 state budgets return $300 million to the state university system, including $12 million coming back to UWF.

“It’s back with no strings, and we are very happy about that,” Bense said. “In both the House and Senate it’s off the table and it’s part of both of their [proposed] budgets.

“Our political connections in Tallahassee are good this year,” she said.

Bense also reported that university workers should be seeing pay increases in the future, as both sides of the legislature have agreed to raises for state workers. Exactly how those raises will look remains unclear, though.

“The House has a $1400 each-person raise and the Senate budget has a 3 percent raise,” she said. “We don’t know how they’ll come out, but we’re getting somewhere. The Legislature wants you to feel better, and they mean it.”

Bense said the money returned to the university will provide a boost.

“UWF is going to benefit in many, many ways —academically and physically, with our facilities,” she said.

The subject of football at UWF is also being heard in the Legislature this session, and Bense said if approved by a committee comprised of students, faculty and staff, the university will implement a $2 per semester hour fee beginning in the fall.

Bense also told the Senate that requests for proposals for University Park were recently sent to developers, and the bids are due by mid-summer, and ground will be broken on the east campus development—the hotel, conference center and student housing, in June.

Provost Martha Saunders said the university is closer to filling the vacant position of assistant vice president for Enrollment Affairs.

“We had about 50 applicants, and it was very difficult to even distinguish them enough to decide who to bring in to interview,” Saunders said. “We had a very strong pool and a very well-run search.

“We’re putting a lot of thought into this, and I expect to make an offer in the next day or two,” she said.

Saunders said Kevin Bailey, vice president for Student Affairs, has been chosen to chair the committee to fill the university’s newly established position of Chief Diversity Officer.

She said the deadline for applications is in early May and that Bailey has already received more than 30 applications for the position.

“It’s going to give us a lot of great opportunities to unify a lot of the wonderful work we’re doing across campus,” Saunders said. “We’ll be able to build a broader portfolio in diversity, multicultural and international affairs.”

In other business, minutes from the senate’s March meeting were approved, and no new business was proposed.

Pennie Sparks, supervisor of elections, said an election will be held soon to fill the seat on the senate last held by Rebekah Weeden.

Evelyn Keith, treasurer, reported that the university’s library book sale at Festival on the Green made more than $800.

For more information about UWF’s Staff Senate, visit uwf.edu/staffsenate.

Stephen Crawford
Staff Writer

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