U. of Florida Plans Layoffs and Enrollment Cuts as State Funds Fall

May 05, 2008

Facing a cut in state appropriations, the president of the University of Florida announced a plan today that would trim $47-million from the university’s budget for the 2008-9 fiscal year by laying off 20 faculty members and 118 staff members and leaving 290 other positions unfilled, among other steps.

President Bernie Machen’s proposal also calls for reducing the university’s undergraduate enrollment by 4,000 over the next four years, cutting back on research, and eliminating some degree programs. The plan will be presented to the faculty later this week and to the trustees next Monday.

“Our priority is to protect the quality and education at the University of Florida,” Mr. Machen said in a message posted on the university’s Web site. “But clearly, we cannot take reductions this large without making difficult choices.”

Mr. Machen also said that the university’s goal of becoming one of the top 10 research institutions in the nation may be delayed by its budget woes and that he fears qualified faculty members may leave for greener pastures after going two years without a pay raise.

The proposal comes in response to a state budget, approved late last week, that slashed $4-billion from education, health care, and other areas of state spending, according to The Tampa Tribune. State agencies, including public colleges and universities, were asked to trim their budgets by 6 percent. They have until July 1, when the new budget year begins, to figure out how to deal with those cuts.

Universities have been bracing for the cuts since the legislative session began, in March. Other institutions may also resort to student and personnel reductions, the Associated Press reported today. Florida State University officials told the AP that they had not yet decided whether layoffs would be necessary, but that the institution was not filling vacant positions.

Officials at Florida International University said they were planning to lay off as many as 200 people, shut down several academic centers, eliminate some degree programs, and accept fewer students. —Sara Hebel