Campus Life

State budget supports higher education, UWF

The Florida State Legislature recently voted to approve the 2013-14 budget, which was signed by Governor Scott today, infusing the State University System with millions in programmatic and capital outlay funding as well as renewal of the $300 million reduction taken during the last legislative session. For the University of West Florida (UWF), this equates to the restoration of $11.9 million.

Additionally, the legislature appropriated new programmatic funding to UWF, which includes $4 million for the statewide online Complete Florida Degree program in conjunction with state colleges and universities; $1 million for the Doctorate of Physical Therapy Program coordinated with the University of South Florida; $1 million for a Doctorate of Nursing Practice coordinated with the University of Florida; and $4 million for the Florida Small Business Development Center Network (SBDC).

Additional funding provided includes a second year of an IT Performance Grant, of which UWF will receive $3.75 million; the $10 million Office of Economic Development and Engagement (OEDE) oil spill economic recovery grant, which was initiated in 2011; and $8.4 million toward the UWF College of Business renovation phase III.

In addition, if qualified, UWF and other state universities may receive a portion of $20 million in performance funding and $44 million in facility maintenance and repair.

At a recent budget town hall meeting, UWF President Bense credited State Legislators, including Senate President Don Gaetz, Speaker Will Weatherford, Chair Joe Negron, Chair Seth McKeel, Chair Marleen O’Toole, Chair Jeanette Nunez, Chair Eric Fresen, Chair John Legg and Chair Bill Galvano for their support of higher education and the future of Florida. She also recognized the dedication and support of local legislators, Chair Clay Ingram, Senator Greg Evers and Representative Doug Broxson. President Bense thanked Board of Trustees Chair Lewis Bear for his time and dedication throughout the legislative session.

“During my tenure as President at UWF, we have been in a constant state budget reduction mode. This year’s budget is a welcome change and we are truly pleased with the hard work and investment of the Legislature and Governor in higher education,” said Bense.

“Particularly, UWF has had one of the best budget years on record and we look forward to putting these dollars to work for our region and the state. I am pleased that the Governor agreed with nearly all of the investments made by the Legislature as we move forward. These investments will make our university and our community stronger, specifically in the area of job creation and retention.”

UWF employees will receive enhancements included in this year’s budget. On Oct. 1, 2013, employees earning $40,000 or less will receive an increase of $1,400; those with a salary of more than $40,000 will receive an increase of $1,000; there is a bonus pool of $600 for certain qualified employees; and health insurance premiums will be provided for qualified part-time employees to implement the federal health care requirements in January 2014.

The Governor did veto a 3 percent tuition increase for the State University System; the $1 million Economic Security Report to be conducted by the Haas Center; and a competitive $15 million Cloud Virtualization grant, in which UWF had planned to compete to fund a Master of Science Administration with a specialization in Large Data Management and Cyber Security.