UF President Machen Discusses Budget Cuts, Pt. 2
University of Florida President Bernie Machen has some difficult budget decisions to make in the coming weeks.
In part two of his interview with TV20's Crispin Lopez, Machen discusses some positives that came out of the legislative session and his possible plans to find new ways to raise money.
TV20: What is the message that you would put out there to members of the University of Florida community? Whether it be faculty and staff...is there any message you can give them as far as weathering this process?
Machen: Well, they need to stay the course. This is a great university because of our faculty and staff. Couple of points that have not been mentioned: Number one, the state has ensured that all employees' health benefits will continue with no increased cost nor reduced benefit to them. Likewise, the retirement program is solid for the state and will continue to be working for all of our employees. So there is some good news here in terms of the way the state is protecting its employees. The difficulty is trying to make some choices amongst some very good programs and deciding which ones we can keep for the longer term and which ones we might have to phase out.
TV20: How long would that process take once those have been identified?
Machen: No student enrolled in a program will be terminated. We will have to deal with faculty transitions, if there are any, and staff as well. I think some of the phase outs and recoveries are going to take two, three, four years. The stimulus money is only available for two years. That's one of the reasons we've got to plan a little bit longer term because you can't affect these changes in that short a period of time.
TV20: During this process, is there anything that didn't come about that you would've liked to see or anything different before we had reached this point?
Machen: Actually, I think the legislature, given the difficulties they had to work with, treated the universities very well. I would have liked the state to have had more money so we wouldn't have to be cut. I think our faculty and staff deserve a raise. That didn't happen and I wish it had happened.
TV20: What are the important steps to follow moving on from here? Again, you said this is something you haven't encountered before. What lessons are you going to take from this process to ensure that the university is prepared for the future?
Machen: Well we have to look at new revenue streams. The state economy is still in great difficulty, so we have to plan now on a two to four-year window to try to figure out what the budget needs of the university are and where we're going to get the revenues to make those come to life. And it's requiring us to think a little bit more strategic and long-term than we have in the past. And I think that's the major change that's happening. We're now thinking in multiple-year cycles rather than just year-to-year.
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