UWF takes $3.8 million budget hit

This letter was sent by UWF President Judy Bense to her faculty and staff:

Dear Campus Community,
I wish to extend my well wishes to everyone impacted by the storm last Tuesday night. It was a very difficult decision to open the campus on Thursday but I felt it critical to enable our students to complete their final exams and finish the semester on time. I appreciate everyone’s hard work to take care of our students and get our campus back to operational level. We are working on providing services and assistance as needed for our faculty, staff, and students who were impacted. Our early assessment is that eleven buildings sustained damage and our facilities team is working tirelessly to restore everything as quickly as possible.

As you know one of the events cancelled due to the storm was my legislative budget town hall meeting. So, I would like to share the outcomes of the legislative session with you in this document. Today is the last day of regular session and it is expected that the legislature will vote on the budget by this evening. Next it will be sent to the Governor who will review, possibly make vetoes, and then will sign the budget which is typically around Memorial Day. The budget goes into effect July 1, 2014.

Performance Funding Based on Board of Governors’ Metrics
The Florida Legislature approved new funding and redistributed existing funding from each university’s base and in addition, repurposed the performance funding from last year making a total of $200 million for the Board of Governors’ performance funding initiative. The legislature accepted the BOG metrics approved at their January 2014 meeting, and their point and distribution system. Universities scoring at least 26 points will have their base funding restored plus a portion of the new money. The three universities scoring less than 26 points (FAU, UWF, and New College) will have a portion of their base funding withheld while they develop and submit a metric improvement plan during the summer to submit to the BOG for approval. Metric progress reports must be submitted in December 2014 and May 2015, and if satisfactory progress has been made, half the base funds withheld will be returned following each report.

Currently, UWF has a score of 21 and $3.82 million will be withheld from our legislative appropriation for 2014/15. It is unclear at this time if the Board of Governors will require us to prepare a reduction plan for the $3.82 million. However, UWF will submit our improvement plan this summer and make progress reports in December and May to the BOG. We ALL must work diligently to improve our metrics, especially our FTIC retention and 6 year graduation rates to get our base funding restored and receive performance funding next year.

Take a look at the table (slide 4) in the linked PowerPoint that summarizes how performance funds are to be allocated to see how a score of just 27 performance metric points by FAMU gives them $11.5 million of new money of recurring dollars, and FGCU with only 28 points is getting $6.9 million. This is the method by which universities are going to get new funding in the future: metric scores that determine performance based funds.

Budget Requests

Our 2014 legislative goals included: maintaining the new recurring funds we received in 2013-2014, maintaining employee benefits, increase funding for the Complete Florida Initiative, new program funding, supporting regional economic development efforts, and renovation funding for the Laboratory Sciences Facility, Building 58. Here, I have good news to report!

Maintaining Existing Funding

UWF was able to maintain all the new funding from last year, including the Doctorate in Physical Therapy, Doctor of Nursing Practice, IT performance funding (funding cybersecurity certificates and minors), Complete Florida Program, and Florida Small Business Development Center. These funds are restricted for their intended purpose.

New Program Funding

UWF received additional funding for new programs and enhancing some current programs. We will be able to start a new Mechanical Engineering Program to align with the regional emerging aerospace initiatives. We also received startup funding for a Doctorate Physician Assistant program, again a critical workforce need area. Our Complete Florida Program received additional funding and will be able to roll out 50 online programs this fall. We also received funding to strengthen the K12 pipeline of students in STEM education.

Capital Projects Funding

We received $11 million to provide much needed renovations to the Laboratory Sciences Building, Building 58. This is a critical need for our campus and incredibly overdue.

In summary, the budget news is mixed. We must work hard to restore the $3.8 million in cuts from the BOG performance funding and improve our metric scores. At the same time we will be able to make investments in current and new programs with the new funding designated for those purposes.

Policy Issues

The Legislature passed a bill that pertains to many issues affecting tuition. Among these issues is deleting the provision that allowed a tuition increase equal to the Consumer Price Index (1.7% last year). Additionally, university Board of Trustees at institutions not designated as preeminent (FSU and UF) will no longer be allowed to increase undergraduate tuition.

Bright Futures

Bright Futures will be expanded to allow for service work areas beyond social areas of interest and students who are unable to accept an initial award immediately after completion of high school due to a full-time religious or service obligation can receive an extension of the 2-year eligibility period for initial award and the 5-year renewal period.

Prepaid Tuition Plans

With the reduction in differential tuition, and other prepaid changes for plans before July 1, 2024, the Prepaid Board estimates that the new changes will reduce the cost of a new 4-Year Florida University Plan by $10,000 and result in $50 million in refunds to families with an existing 4-Year Florida University Plan.

Florida Virtual Campus

The Legislature is proposing to move the Florida Virtual Campus (FLVC) to the University of West Florida. The FLVC is comprised of Joint Library Services for the state colleges and universities, the FACTS advising system, and the Distance Learning Consortium. This is a statewide program that provides various online student services, manages transient student forms, supports advising, and supports the sharing of public library resources throughout the state.

As we begin this new budget year it is critical that UWF focus on improving our accountability metrics. We have already begun implementation of numerous initiatives and will continue to focus heavily on retention and graduation rates. We have an unprecedented opportunity to bring new funds into our institution through performance on the accountability metrics. The future of our institution is in our hands more than ever before and I ask that you join with me in seizing this opportunity.

To view my town hall PowerPoint click here:



Judy Bense