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Boards $21 Million Statewide Cuts Wont Affect UF Resources, Machen Says

This story was written by Kristen Huff and Katie Sanders,

Gov. Charlie Crist reduced funding for statewide agencies by another 4 percent Thursday, but UF President Bernie Machen assured the Board of Trustees on Friday that the cut would not drain any more of UFs resources.

The cut, applied to public universities, hospitals, community colleges and others, will amount to an additional $21 million deficit for UF heading into the new school year.

Machen told the board, UFs highest governing body, that more faculty and staff layoffs or program reductions wont be necessary to make up the difference.

Because UF officials did not count on Florida Lottery returns when crafting the plan to cut $47 million from the budget, he said the additional cut will be nearly covered at least this time.

Machen said UF will have to face another round of budget cuts if surprised with an additional stateimposed crunch.

During his opening remarks at Fridays meeting, Machen admitted some of UFs achievements over the past year may be overshadowed by the effects of the states economic downturn.

Im afraid its going to be remembered as the year of the budget cuts, he said.

In other business, the board approved a 15 percent tuition increase for incoming freshmen and sophomores with little debate.

The increase will bring in about $24 million for new faculty hires in highdemand undergraduate programs, Machen said.

All students will feel a 6 percent tuition hike this fall.

Students admitted after July 1, 2007 will pay an additional 9 percent unless they are part of a prepaid college tuition program.

Steve Orlando, UF spokesman, said around 9,400 students will feel the complete 15 percent tuition boost through the Differential Tuition Program, which allows UF to incrementally raise tuition 40 percent over four years starting with this falls freshman class.

Machen said in a Thursday committee meeting that switching to a flatrate tuition model may benefit UF in the long run by enticing students to take heavier class loads at less cost.

In the model, which is still being explored, he said students could take 12 to 18 credits for the same rate instead of paying by credit hour.

Machen also discussed the likelihood of raising faculty wages.

UF faculty members have gone without raises for two years. A decision on wages will be made once the financial reports for the year are finished, he said.

Im not going to say its not possible yet, he said.

Daniel Wubah, associate provost for undergraduate academic affairs, also proposed reforms to UFs undergraduate program.

Wubah said the new undergraduate curriculum should include themebased general education tracks focused on specific majors and more research opportunities for students.

Ideally, the new program would be developed by August 2010.

Machen addressed the importance of improving the undergraduate experience, which he said has been ignored at UF for a long time.

Weve got to make sure were delivering something special because if we dont, these kids are of the quality that theyll go somewhere else, he said.

Joe Glover, interim den for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and incoming provost, said it is still too early for him to make official pronouncements about the plans. Glover did say the plans to reform UFs undergraduate program are ambitious.

Sometimes the devil is in the details, he said.

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