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Earlier this week, Governor Rick Scott announced his budget proposal for the 2011-12 fiscal year, which begins July 1. His proposal includes a reduction for public universities, the exact amount of which is still being determined.

It is important to understand that crafting the new budget is a marathon, not a sprint. This proposal marks the first steps in what will be a long process, and the outcome is far from being determined.

The next milestone will be the issuance of the Florida House and Senate budget proposals in a few weeks. Then, negotiations will take place before a final budget is submitted for Governor Scott’s approval or veto later this spring.

Our goal is to minimize the impact of budget cuts on our students and staff and faculty members. In the coming weeks, I will use these Provost’s Updates to share what we are hearing from Tallahassee and what it means for our university.

Where we stand

The state is facing at least a $3.6 billion deficit entering the next fiscal year, and it has been apparent for some time that budget reductions for universities were likely. Some of our key preparations for these reductions include:

  • voluntarily placing three percent of our budgetin reserves last fall
  • strategically building one-time reserve funds during the past few years
  • gradually phasing stimulus money out of our budget

These actions, combined with a steady increase in tuition, have positioned UCF to manage reasonable budget reductions. That being said, it is not time to relax. I urge colleges and divisions to spend wisely and conserve resources.

This ongoing budget uncertainty requires us to focus on managing worst-case scenarios. However, it is also important to focus on our staff and faculty members’ many successes.

For instance, last month the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching ranked UCF among the nation’s top research institutions, and Junior Achievement presented us with its 2010 President’s Volunteer Service Award, which honors organizations that provide at least 15,000 volunteer service hours to their communities.

These are just two of the many recognitions your exceptional work receives, despite our budget difficulties. I appreciate all that you do for our students and applaud your superb devotion to our university.