A Letter from President Genshaft

Dear Members of the University of South Florida Community:

The start of a new fiscal year is a good time to assess where our university stands in these onerous financial times. I know all of you have worked diligently to make the most of scarce resources, maintain an atmosphere of academic excellence and support your co-workers and our students as we adjust to the new financial reality at USF. Although not an ideal situation, I believe our university is weathering these challenges as best can be expected, and I am proud that we have not lost sight of our important goals.

Every university in the nation, and particularly our sister institutions here in Florida, have had to find their own way in grappling with the severe budget cutbacks we’ve experienced in recent years. USF has taken a fiscally conservative stance and sustained our major cuts and reorganizations last year. While it was a painful process, we as an institution are now in a better position to focus on reengineering our future and to look forward.

 

That said, USF still needs to remain vigilant as our financial situation evolves along with Florida and the nation’s economic recovery. We are in unprecedented times and it would be foolhardy for any public institution to act as if the crisis has passed, because we all know from the headlines that it has not.

The purpose of the stabilization funds is to save jobs and it my hope to use these funds to preserve as many jobs as possible. You might recall in January, I enacted a hiring freeze on all vacant positions in the university. Recently, as the budget picture has become clearer, I have delegated the authority to decide whether or not to continue the hiring freeze to each vice president.

The financial crisis is mitigated by two important sources of revenue: a 15 percent increase in tuition and $23 million for the USF system from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The federal funds essentially help stabilize our budget, but at this point are not due to last more than two years. That means we will have to continually refine and sharpen our spending in order to be prepared for those funds expiring before a full recovery is underway here in Florida.

It is also important to note which needs the federal stabilization money cannot be used for, such as increasing the endowment, modernization or renovation of athletic facilities; new construction or restoring the rainy day fund. In 2008, we agreed to make cuts and investment decisions based on the principles of preserving academic excellence; adhering to our strategic plan; moving enrolled students toward timely graduation; protecting the faculty’s research and innovation activities;  securing the financial integrity of the institution and, most importantly, to care about the people affected in the process. Those principles remain our guide today.

We seek to neither be overly pessimistic about our situation nor artificially upbeat. The fact remains that these are difficult times, but ones the University of South Florida not only can endure but play a large role in correcting as a champion of a new economy. We will continue to work toward producing new intellectual capital through our graduates, our research and our innovation – and I have every confidence we will succeed together.

Thank you for your hard work, dedication and contribution to USF’s continuing success.

Sincerely,
Judy Genshaft