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By any measure, the past two years have produced the worst economy most of us have ever experienced. Like other state agencies, UCF has been confronted with an economic decline and budget reductions that have impacted every aspect of our university.

Since July 1, 2007, $77 million in recurring funds have been cut from the university’s budget, including the recently announced $38 million cut to UCF’s 2009-10 fiscal year budget.

In this time of unprecedented economic crisis, UCF has worked to protect students and faculty and staff members from the full effects of the decline. However, the impact of the most recent reduction means we must fundamentally change our response.

After careful consideration, university leadership will recommend limited academic program eliminations to the UCF Board of Trustees at its July meeting. Most UCF students and faculty and staff members are best served through these targeted measures, rather than through additional across-the-board cuts to all programs.

Earlier today, deans from the College of Business Administration, College of Sciences, College of Engineering and Computer Science, and College of Health and Public Affairs met with faculty and staff members who will be affected by the proposed eliminations. In all, we have proposed eliminating five programs that will affect about 50 faculty and staff members.

A complete list of the proposed program eliminations has been posted to theBudget Resource Center Web site. The programs will be phased out over the next two years and will save UCF about $6.1 million.

Click here for a video message from UCF President John C. Hitt.

Faculty and staff members in those programs will remain with the university through the end of the spring 2010 semester. Some faculty and staff members may be provided continued employment until the end of the spring 2011 semester to help the remaining students complete their degrees.

The budget cut also will impact university administrative programs: a 3.1 percent ($3.7 million) cut will be phased in to the administrative budget. That percentage is the same overall cut that the program eliminations represent to UCF’s academic budget.

UCF’s faculty and staff members make outstanding contributions to our university, and program eliminations are not a reflection on their work. Rather, the severity of this economic crisis has forced us to take this action.

Helping students
We will do everything we can to assist the roughly 1,100 students who are enrolled in the affected programs of study. Colleges and departments are developing “teach out” plans to ensure that courses and faculty are available to accommodate students in the affected programs.

UCF will work with undergraduate students who are within 36 credits of completing their majors to ensure they are able to take the courses required to graduate. Undergraduates who require more credits will have the option of shifting to other related programs at UCF, or to transfer to another institution with our help.

Undergraduates in a cohort program will have a different plan to complete their degrees and should talk with their program director. All affected undergraduate students should contact their college’s academic advisors next week for more detailed information.

Master’s students who have completed 50 percent of their coursework, or who were enrolled full-time in fall 2008 or spring 2009 and plan to continue to enroll full-time, should be able to finish their programs. Affected graduate students also are encouraged to make appointments with their program directors.

The Future
While I have experienced economic downturns earlier in my career, nothing compares to the depth and duration of the current crisis.

Although a tuition increase, a slight increase in non-recurring state funds, and temporary federal stimulus money will delay the full impact of the most recent budget cut, the university still faces a significant budget deficit. In fact, additional program eliminations may become necessary if more state-mandated reductions occur.

Now, and in the future, our goal for managing budget cuts will remain the same: to preserve the university’s core educational and research programs to allow UCF to emerge from the economic downturn in the best position possible.

On behalf of the Board of Trustees, President John Hitt, and the UCF leadership team, thank you for all you have done to support UCF during this difficult time. Now more than ever, our university needs your continued dedication and excellence.