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The Florida Legislature recently completed the state’s budget for the 2010-11 fiscal year, which begins July 1. Although the budget is not final until approved by Governor Crist, I want to share with you how the proposed budget will likely impact UCF.

Unlike the past two years, UCF is facing a relatively modest one percent reduction in our 2010-11 state funding. Fortunately, projected tuition increases will make up for this most recent $2.4 million reduction in state funding.

This means that UCF’s budget will increase slightly overall, despite the cut in state support. In fact, our five-year budget plan depends on continued tuition-driven budget increases to replace our current dependence on nonrecurring funds. More will be said about this below.

Part of the tuition increase is known as “differential tuition,” and it comes with restrictions on how it can be spent. By law, 70 percent of differential tuition has to be spent on activities that directly support undergraduate education, and 30 percent on need-based financial aid.

The bottom line? Although the cut in state support is difficult—and differential tuition funds are more restrictive than state money—we should be pleased that UCF is not facing the magnitude of budget cuts experienced during the past few years.

State leaders deserve our thanks for making higher education a priority in the 2010-11 budget.

Reserves Key to Our Future

As I have written before, we have weathered the financial crisis better than many state universities, but budget issues remain.

The federal stimulus money that makes up a significant portion of our budget disappears at the start of the 2011-12 fiscal year. While the projected tuition revenue from this year will help offset the loss of stimulus funds, UCF is still struggling to recover from $77 million in budget cuts that began in July 2007.

Fortunately, during the past few years UCF has strategically built reserve funds, and we will use these reserves to replace the lost stimulus and state funds. Increasing tuition revenue will allow us to gradually phase the reserve funds out of our budget by 2014, according to our projections.

This “soft landing” is possible due to our multi-year plan to build reserves to help manage the budget crisis. This decision to build our reserves is helping us avoid additional layoffs and program closures when the stimulus funds disappear on July 1, 2011.

This multi-year funding crisis has been one of the most difficult challenges many of us have faced in our academic careers. Despite the economic pressures we have endured, I am more confident than ever before that “UCF Stands For Opportunity.”

Thank You

In my first Provost’s Update in 2007, I thanked you in advance for all that I knew you would do to assist our students during the challenging times that were ahead. Nearly three years later, our future looks much brighter.

Faculty and staff members continue to educate our future leaders, perform pioneering research, and provide students with exceptional support services. Outstanding students continue to enroll at UCF, and our university continues to embrace, and be embraced by, the Central Florida community.

The credit for this goes to our outstanding staff and faculty members, and I appreciate all that you have done for our students and university.

Finally, thank you for the opportunity I’ve had to serve as your provost and executive vice president. It has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career.