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October Update

Our national and state economies continue to be plagued by uncertainty. As much as that uncertainty impacts the lives of our students and faculty and staff members, it also affects our university.

I hope in this Update to let you know the steps the university has taken to address our budget situation and bolster important reserve funds.

As I have said before, UCF has been proactive in dealing with state budget cuts. Our intent has been to help colleges and divisions weather the cuts this fiscal year and prepare for another difficult year in 2009-10.

In addition to waiving the traditional limit on carrying funds from one fiscal year forward to the next, we have encouraged everyone to spend wisely in anticipation of more budget cuts.

To this point, our university-wide strategy has worked. Not only have we avoided the layoffs announced at other universities, but our approach has directly enabled colleges and divisions to conserve unspent resources to help offset current and future state-mandated cuts.

Although these one-time-only resources cannot be used for expenses that will recur year after year–such as new hires, raises or programs that will require regular expenditures in the future–they have been vital to the ability of our colleges and divisions to deal with past budget cuts. They also will help us prepare for more cuts in 2009-10.

To be as clear as possible, these resources are a combination of assets and not simply “cash” in a university discretionary account. Specifically, these resources will be used as described below:

  • $70 million: By law, many of these resources can be used only for specific purposes to keep the university running and support its educational mission to students. Examples include financial aid; classroom material, supply and equipment costs; operation and maintenance of student housing, parking facilities, shuttle service, dining services and the bookstore; and student activities, including support of the Student Union and Recreation & Wellness Center.
  • $44 million: The university has allowed colleges and divisions to carry forward this amount to help offset state-mandated budget cuts. As I stated before, these are one-time only, or non-recurring, and cannot be used for recurring expenditures that extend into another fiscal year.
  • $22 million: This represents the 5 percent of our operating budget that UCF is required by the state to hold in reserve.
  • $5 million: We will hold this amount in reserve to help offset future budget cuts.

These resources have been, and will continue to be, critical to helping us maintain the high levels of service expected at UCF. That we are in this position is a tribute to the level-headed and conservative fiscal approach adopted by colleges and divisions across the university.

In July’s Provost’s Update, I reported that college deans and division vice presidents would evaluate their academic and administrative programs and activities should our financial position deteriorate. In large part because of our proactive approach, decisions about potential eliminations are being delayed as long as possible with the hope that our economic outlook improves.

In the weeks and months ahead, I will continue to communicate regularly about the budget and how it affects our university.

During this time, our faculty and staff members have made tremendous efforts and sacrifices to serve our students and community. I applaud your continued work and thank you for a conservative financial approach that has resulted in these important resources being available to benefit our university.

Continued Excellence
It is important to note that despite our statewide budget issues, UCF remains a university of choice for high-quality students, and our reputation as a research institution continues to grow.

This fall we have enrolled another outstanding freshman class, which includes 63 National Merit Scholars, a total that should place us among the top 40 universities in the nation. The members of this class boast an average high school GPA of 3.75 and an SAT score of 1219–a more than 50-point increase since 2002.

Our success has been recognized around the country, most recently when U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges” guide ranked UCF No. 7 in the new “Up-and-Coming” category for national universities that have recently made the most promising and innovative changes in academics, faculty, students or facilities. UCF is the only Florida school in the top 10 and is ranked alongside universities such as the University of Southern California, Clemson and Arizona State.

In September, UCF joined prestigious research universities such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard and Stanford in the top 10 of the “2008 Patent Scorecard,” which ranks technology innovations gained from patents. UCF also has surpassed the benchmark of $100 million in research funding for the fourth consecutive year.

These accomplishments are testaments to your dedication to UCF and I thank you for them.