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University of Florida - Gators for Higher Ed

Date: March 9, 2013

To: University of Florida Family and Friends

Re: Legislative session

Please allow me to share with you some exciting news that represents a significant step toward the University of Florida’s quest to become a top 10 public research university.

Legislation supported by Gov. Rick Scott, the Senate and the House of Representatives provides a framework for UF to pursue national excellence and be counted among the nation’s very best public institutions, a goal long held by the UF Board of Trustees and generations of UF leaders. We are thankful in every respect for the state’s transformational support of UF’s mission to achieve preeminence.

We are grateful for the help of many of you who advocated for and helped shepherd this very important initiative. Special thanks go out to President Bernie Machen for his dedication, leadership and hard work in helping to make this dream a reality. We are confident that UF’s ascent in the rankings of America’s top institutions will provide significant benefits not only in our classrooms and research laboratories but also to the state and across our great nation.

With this designation and the qualification of preeminence, UF will receive $75 million --- $15 million a year for five years --- in state funding. This will be matched with $75 million from private fundraising. Together, the $150 million will help advance UF in two ways: by reducing class sizes, which improves our student-faculty ratio, and by augmenting the university’s research and technology transfer capabilities.

The preeminent university designation also gives UF the authority to create an institute that will deliver online four-year bachelor’s degrees, believed to be the first of its kind in the nation. The online degree program, scheduled to launch in January, provides opportunities for students who choose not to pursue an education at a traditional brick-and-mortar college or university. UF’s inaugural class of online students must meet the same UF admissions standards as other UF undergraduates. 

They also can choose from educational tracks in business, criminology and law, sport management, health education and environmental management. Additional programs will be available later.  Students who choose to pursue their UF degrees online will be true pioneers, meeting  the same rigor and excellence as for all UF degrees.

To fund the creation of the institute and its programs, the state will give UF $15 million for the first year and $5 million annually in subsequent years. That money will be used for increased faculty, staffing and equipment needed to develop the online degree programs.

The Legislature also provided $15 million toward the construction of a $60 million new chemistry building.  It will replace the existing building, which was constructed in 1947 and can no longer accommodate the number of students taking this important science class.  Overcrowded and antiquated facilities compromise our ability to offer a quality educational experience that the state’s best and brightest students deserve.

Like the preeminence funding, this appropriation will be matched by private contributions.The preeminence funding, online institute and chemistry building are all  valuable tools that, no doubt, will speed our progress toward our top 10 goal.              

As we move forward, the UF community can expect to see the university’s already strong reputation and stature grow as our ability to provide an excellent educational experience is enhanced. The landscape of higher education is changing quickly, and the passage of the preeminence bill puts UF in an excellent position to keep up with that change while increasing the value of a UF degree.

Finally, I would like to extend an extra special thanks to you, the students, faculty, staff, alumni and thousands of others who make up the UF family. Your loyalty and tireless efforts brought us to this point, and now we all stand together as UF prepares to take its place among the best of the best.

I know you share my pride. Much work remains to implement  and accomplish our goals, but I am certain we are up to the task. President Machen and his outstanding team continue to pursue and achieve excellence on every level at the university.

Best Regards,

C. David Brown II
Chairman

UF Board of Trustees

University of Florida

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