March 3, 2015
To: Friends and Family in Gators for Higher Education
From: UF President Kent Fuchs
Re: 2015 Legislative Session
Greetings! I'm pleased to begin my third month as president and excited about experiencing my first legislative session in Florida.
I know that the members of Gators for Higher Education have been very successful in advocating for our university's legislative priorities in past years. As we prepare to seek your assistance again this year, I want to continue our tradition of informing you of UF's major legislative priorities for the coming session.
I'll begin with two major items - UF Preeminence and performance-based funding.
As you're aware, UF Preeminence began in 2013 with the Legislature's designation of UF as the state's preeminent institution. We're well on our way to hiring more than 120 distinguished new faculty in key areas of science and scholarship - and we're making great progress in raising nearly $1 billion in private funds to augment our public preeminence funding.
I plan to join the UF community in building on this progress to elevate our university's stature to that of the very best universities in the nation. As we work together toward to this goal, we are asking our lawmakers to provide an additional $10 million to accelerate and expand UF Preeminence.
The Legislature has further supported UF through performance-based funding, which increases resources for state universities based on 10 performance metrics. UF has received $27.6 million in performance funding since it was initiated in 2013, and we urge our lawmakers to continue this critical program this year.
We also seek:
* $25 million for the renovation and expansion of a 50-year-old College of Engineering building - a step that will boost our numbers of engineering graduates and enhance research that drives economic development.
* $8 million to renovate historic Norman Hall, the home base of so many of the state's teachers and education professionals. Listed on the National Historic Registry, Norman has had few upgrades in recent years. Its needs are critical.
* $1.25 million for UF's continuing efforts to preserve and maintain the iconic historic buildings of our nation's first city, St. Augustine.
* $7 million for boiler upgrades; $6.9 million for data analytics; $2.5 million for the Florida Energy Systems Consortium; $1.5 million for the Institute for the Commercialization of Public Research; $5.5 million for IFAS Research and Extension and $12 million for UF Health Shands.
Finally, we join Florida State University and the State University System in urging the Legislature to make progress in paying down a $100.9 million backlog of Alec Courtelis matching funds for new university construction. UF's share of this backlog is $28.2 million, and those dollars would have benefits across our campus.
When I was considering the UF presidency, I knew that UF was a great university. Now that I've had the opportunity to meet with our faculty, students and alumni -and acquaint myself with our incredible campus and remarkable faculty and students - I realize that we are even better than we thought. We owe this excellence in part to the support we receive from Gator alumni and friends - especially all of you, the active and committed advocates of Gators for Higher Education.
I urge you to make your voice for UF heard again by reaching out to your local lawmakers on behalf of our 2015 priorities. You can learn more by visiting the Gators for Higher Education website.
I look forward to meeting many of you throughout the session and the rest of the year as we all work "For the Gator Good."