faculty senate meeting photo

As the first Faculty Senate meeting of this spring semester ended, Interim Provost Michael Johnson was announced as having another role at UCF, vice president of academic affairs. Other topics of the meeting included a new request for funds and the ongoing discussion of reducing the student-faculty ratio.

UCF and other Florida schools are requesting $800 million for maintenance, UCF President Alexander Cartwright said at a meeting Thursday.

“The $800 million is a request from the Board of Governors for the entire system,” Cartwright said. “It is my understanding that the amount that will be allocated to us would be determined through additional discussions.”

The state university system, which includes UCF, is part of this request to the Florida legislative.

Joseph Harrington, Faculty Senate chair and Board of Trustees member, led the meeting Thursday and said that this problem of deferred maintenance is not just known at UCF.

Deferred maintenance refers to putting-off needed repairs on buildings, roads or other facilities in order to save money. However, not keeping up with needed maintenance can cost more in the long run.

“Statewide, the legislature has not invested sufficiently in preventive maintenance, most of which has been deferred,” Harrington said. “They now get their mistake.”

These funds are only for maintenance, not renovations. 

UCF is also requesting $25 million from the Public Education Capital Outlay. The last request was made five years ago, Cartwright said.

The $25 million would be dedicated to the education and general part of UCF budget. This is what funds student services, general instruction and other enrollment-related operations of the university, according to 2021-2022 operating budget.

Cartwright also named Michael Johnson from interim provost to full-time provost. 

“It’s the right decision for UCF,” Cartwright said regarding Johnson’s new role.

The vote for the assistant provost for UCF downtown campus will be soon.

Another main theme of the meeting on Thursday was the ongoing topic of reducing student-faculty ratio and enrollment at UCF.

“We are leaving the growth era behind,” Johnson said.

A potential concern is that with fewer students enrolled, tuition costs could rise for undergraduates. Johnson said that this is not in their hands, as the governor and Florida legislature oversee that.

UCF, however, can have some say in tuition costs for graduate students.

Another way to help alleviate the growth of student enrollment is to handle the number of transfer students UCF enrolls. UCF is partnered with six colleges in allowing those students with associate degrees to transfer to UCF to graduate with a bachelor’s degree.

“It is easier to handle these transfers,” Johnson said.

Student enrollment from fall 2020 to fall 2021 decreased by about 1,500 students, according to UCF's Institutional Knowledge Management.

One issue that UCF will face is having to generate the revenue in replacing the funds from student enrollment.

“When you look for a decrease in our enrollment, that means we have to look for more funding,” Cartwright said.

This will be addressed as a new budget model is being created for the new fiscal year.

As UCF has not been immune to the effects of the “Great Resignation” and as the cost of living in Orlando has increased, the issue of raises for faculty was also mentioned.

“Does UCF hire more staff or give raises,” Johnson said in response to the requests from faculty.

The next Faculty Senate meeting will be held on Feb. 17 through Zoom.

Overall, Cartwright said he remains hopeful for the future of UCF even during the time of COVID and having to allocate funds.

“I believe we are moving in the right direction,” Cartwright said. “It will take some time.”

In a previous version of this story, Provost Michael Johnson was referred to as interim provost. It was also stated that he gained a new role, vice president of academic affairs. NSM has now corrected the story to say Johnson was promoted from interim provost to full-time provost.

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