To: University of Florida Friends and Family
From: UF President Kent Fuchs
Re: 2016 Legislative Session
Greetings! I'm thrilled to begin my second year as president and excited about this year's legislative session.
Let me start by thanking the members of Gators for Higher Education for your advocacy of our university's legislative priorities in past years. As we seek your assistance again this year, we want to continue our tradition of informing you of UF's major legislative priorities for the coming session.
I'll begin with one major item - UF Preeminence.
As many of you are aware, UF Preeminence began in 2013 with the Legislature's designation of UF as the state's preeminent institution. We've hired nearly 100 distinguished new faculty in key areas of science and scholarship - and we continue to make progress in our fundraising efforts to augment our public preeminence funding. As we work together toward the goal of elevating UF to one of the very best universities in the nation, we are asking our lawmakers to provide an additional $10 million to accelerate and expand UF Preeminence.
A second critical item is matching gifts through the Alec P. Courtelis Facilities Enhancement Program.
This program matched state and donor funds for university buildings for two decades, providing $664 million for renovated or newly constructed facilities, before a 2011 moratorium. UF is joining the State University System in asking that the legislature begin matching outstanding donations. Prior to the moratorium, UF's backlog was $28 million, so this step would have an immediate and positive impact on our campus.
We also seek:
* $20.5 million for the Engineering Innovation Nexus Building to boost our number 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.
* $18 million for utilities, infrastructure and capital renewal to help UF address its most serious building maintenance problems.
* $2.5 million for the Florida Energy Systems Consortium; $1.5 million for neurodegenerative disease research in the UF Health Science Center; $1 million for smart tourism research and $1 million for online general education core classes.
* Nearly $9 million for UF IFAS efforts, including $3.5 million for workload funding; $2.6 million for the beef teaching unit; $1.9 million for information technology support and $1.3 million for detection and rapid response surrounding the early detection of invasive species.
I urge you to make your voice for UF heard again by reaching out to your local lawmakers on behalf of our 2016 priorities. You can learn more by visiting Gators for Higher Education at gatorsforhighered.ufl.edu.
Members of Gators for Higher Education, thank you again for your wonderful support. I look forward to working with you this legislative session and during the entire year as we continue to champion UF and its global impact "For the Gator Good."