USF Celebrates a Successful Legislative Session

Rocky and scores of USF students traveled to Tallahassee this spring to speak to lawmakers about legislative priorities.  USF News file photo.

All of the USF System’s top five legislative priorities for the 2014 session were supported, among numerous other victories for higher education policy and funding.

TAMPA, Fla. (June
2, 2014) –The University of South Florida System is celebrating landmark support from state leaders, with the conclusion of one of the most successful legislative sessions in recent memory.

Gov. Rick Scott’s signing of the 2014-15 state budget means USF will gain funding and policy support for several institutional priorities.

“We are thankful our state leaders are making a significant investment in our state university system which will pay dividends for decades to come,” said USF System President Judy Genshaft. “The USF System will benefit from additional funding that will support our students, help us maintain our campus infrastructure and expand our scientific and research capacity.”

         The Florida Capitol. Photo | State of Florida.

USF entered the legislative session with five top priorities identified. All five were supported:

1. Establish and invest in the Florida Center for Cybersecurity, principally located at USF.

The newly created Florida Center for Cybersecurity was established within USF, and $5 million in recurring funds were allocated to USF to support the center’s operations and USF’s new cybersecurity initiatives.

2. Provide funding toward completing construction of the USF Health Heart Institute.

$15 million was allocated toward the construction cost of the Heart Institute. This $15 million is combined with nearly $20 million received during the previous two legislative sessions.

3. Provide funding toward completing construction of the USF St. Petersburg College of Business facility.

$10 million was allocated toward the construction cost of the USFSP College of Business. This funding, combined with the $5 million received last year, provides sufficient funding to break ground this year.

4. Invest in continued development of USF Sarasota-Manatee’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) programs and STEM faculty hiring.

$1.4 million in new recurring funds was allocated to USFSM to hire additional STEM faculty and to expand the campus' STEM programs in partnership with Mote Marine Laboratory. This funding represents a more than 10% increase in state funds for USFSM next year.

5. Guarantee all U.S. military veterans the right to pay the in-state resident tuition rate.

The Congressman C.W. Bill Young Tuition Waiver Program was passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor in March. The program will allow honorably discharged veterans to pay the in-state tuition rate at state universities, regardless of how long they’ve lived in Florida.

Aside from the USF System’s top priorities, the Legislature and Governor also provided support for several projects that will directly benefit the university. Those include:

-$200 million for performance funding across the State University System; USF stands to again be a top winner in that performance-funding model, which rewards universities in measures of student success, such as graduation and retention rates, and post-graduation career productivity.

-USF will also receive $5 million to be used towards the construction of a new state-of-the-art Morsani College of Medicine to replace the existing, outdated facility that was constructed in the early 1970s.

-The USF Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute received $1.25 million in support, and another $850,000 was allocated to USF to provide assistance services to veterans, including those affected by PTSD.

-The Florida Institute of Oceanography, a statewide resource that is housed in the USF College of Marine Science, received $1.25 million.

-Finally, USF Sarasota-Manatee will be able to continue and enhance its strong community outreach through the Small Business Development Center and the Center for Partnerships for Arts-Integrated Teaching (PAInT) with a $200,000 allocation.