Machen: Summer school staying
Published: Thursday, January 17, 2008 at 7:02 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 17, 2008 at 7:02 p.m.
University of Florida President Bernie Machen has scrapped a proposal to close summer school, and he's no longer considering reducing the size of the fall freshman class.
Speaking to UF's Faculty Senate Thursday, Machen said the costs of both proposals would outweigh the benefits.
"Folks, the reality is we can't do without summer school for lots of reasons — one of which is just the economics of it," he said. "The amount of money that we would lose far exceeds the $16 million that we'd have to cut out of our budget."
When Machen learned this month that a $1 billion state budget shortfall would require UF to cut 4 percent of its budget by July, he sent shock waves through Florida by floating the idea of closing down UF over the summer. But after crunching the numbers, UF officials found that the university would lose more than it gained financially and too greatly disrupt students' academic plans. The plan would have led to a loss of credit hour production, which is used to determine state funding levels, as
well as a decline in tuition revenues.
Students put between $75 million and $100 million into the local economy over the summer, according to UF projections. Talk of scrapping summer school, and losing those dollars, had Gainesville's business community on edge.
"What surprised me is the number of business people in the city who have talked to me about what it would mean to their livelihood and to the economy (if summer school was canceled)," Machen said.
One way or another, however, UF is going to have to find a way to endure a significant budget problem. The 4 percent cut the state is requiring comes on the heels of a previous cut of nearly 4 percent that was required earlier this year. By July of 2008, UF officials project the total drop in recurring state support will be $47.2 million.
Machen won't discuss the specific options on the table, but he says he's looking for a solution that won't require layoffs or salary reductions. That leaves just one more option: Putting an end to significant programs at the university.
"That's the story," Machen said. "I'm sorry that it's not more upbeat."
Machen doesn't expect to bring a budget cut proposal before UF's trustees until late spring. He says he'll seek advice from the Senate's steering committee before moving forward.
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