The University of South Florida St. Petersburg – along with the entire USF system – is facing steep budget cuts under a proposal in the Florida Senate.
Last week, the state Senate submitted its proposed budget, which includes about $400 million in cuts to the state university system, including a $104 million budget cut for the University of South Florida, a USF news release said.
Under the Senate proposal, USF's funding would drop to $74 million from the current level of $178 million. Budgets at other state universities would also receive significant cuts, according to the Senate proposal.
If the budget is approved, USF St. Petersburg would lose $600,000 or 2.6 percent of its state funding.
According to USF, the budget cut for the entire system balloons to $128 million once other factors are taken into account, including loss of funding for the pharmacy program, loss of funding for USF Polytechnic and absorbing the costs of salaries for Polytechnic staff and faculty.
In a letter to alumni, fans and supporters, USF System President Judy Genshaft said:
"This cut is much greater than any other university is being asked to absorb. We have not seen any rationale of how these percentages were allocated in the Senate budget process.
We need your help right now. These cuts would injure our students immediately, and they will strike a blow against economic recovery in the Tampa Bay region and the state.
... These cuts threaten academic programs for our students, funding for our new College of Pharmacy, and the opportunity to recruit and retain star faculty and researchers."
At an emergency meeting of the USF Board of Trustees Monday, Genshaft referred to the Senate's proposed budget as "draconian," calling upon the USF community, alumni and friends to show their "Unstoppable" spirit by defending the university, the news release said.
Also, university officials said, the Tampa Bay community would suffer from the loss of the economic impact USF has on the region.
"We really can make a difference and now is the time," Genshaft said in the USF news release. "It's not a done deal. We can change this."
In the letter to alumni, Genshaft concluded:
"There are several steps that must occur before this Senate proposal could be mandated. USF has great friends in the Florida Legislature, and we will rely on them to ensure that state allocations are equitable to this university, and that higher education is recognized for its role in galvanizing Florida's economy.
Everyone who cares about the future of USF and the future economic development of the Tampa Bay region should be concerned."
In the proposed plan, USF Tampa would lose 58 percent of its state funding, USF Health would lose 4.5 percent and USF Poly would lose 100 percent.
USF Sarasota-Manatee is actually getting a 15 percent increase in funding.
Other state colleges would see cuts too under the proposals. The University of Florida would lose 25.8 percent funding. Florida State University would lose 22.3 percent of its state funding.