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Politics

Bernie Machen: Scott’s Budget a 'Significant Step' to Build UF’s National Profile

January 31, 2013 - 6:00pm


Bernie Machen, after being convinced to remain president at the University of Florida, now has a serious proposal on the desk to build the campus into one of the best in the nation.

Gov. Rick Scott specifically set aside $15 million in his $74.2 billion proposed budget for the Gainesville university to achieve a national top 10 ranking.

The line item was included with the $393.3 million hike to the budget for the Florida State University System.

Machen, who was set to retire until being asked to stay on early in January, intends to use the money -- if approved by legislators -- to reduce the student-faculty ratio and attract nationally recognized scientists who can help advance the university's research and technology transfer enterprises.

Governor Scott's proposal represents a significant step toward a goal that has been at the forefront of the agenda for the current UF board of trustees and generations of UF leaders before our time, Machen stated in a letter to the UF Alumni Association.

The governors budget would also direct $100 million for building science, technology, engineering, and math facilities. That money could result in some inter-university politicking as the money is designated for four, undesignated campuses only that are able to match the offer.

Machen in his letter encouraged alumni to back the funding proposals by lobbying legislators.

Machens letter

To: University of Florida Family

From: UF President Bernie Machen

Re: Gov. Scott's Budget Proposal

I am very happy to share with you news that could have a tremendously positive effect on the University of Florida and its ability to enhance and expand its missions of research, education, service and economic development.

Today, Florida Gov. Rick Scott made clear his support for the University of Florida's quest to become a top-10 public university and included in his proposed budget a $15 million appropriation for UF. The funds, which require approval by the Florida Legislature, would be used to hire new faculty. These hires would help reduce the student-faculty ratio and enable UF to attract nationally recognized scientists who can help advance the university's research and technology transfer enterprises.

The governor's budget also includes a fund of $100 million for construction of state university buildings for science, technology, engineering and math the STEM fields. This fund would be made available to up to four universities that are able to match the state funds with university money. We plan to apply for funding for a new laboratory building that will handle the increasing number of students taking chemistry.

We welcome the governor's support of our goal of achieving top-10 status, which would result in enormous benefits for UF, Florida's young people and the continued growth and prosperity of the state.

These benefits include:

A world-class educational experience for Florida's best and brightest students, many of whom now journey out of state to pursue their highest college ambitions.

Enhanced ability to compete with the nation's largest and most robust centers of business and technology research and development, such as North Carolina's Research Triangle Park, California's Silicon Valley, and Massachusetts' Route 128.

Heightened visibility and prestige for Florida's entire university system, a critical step for a bellwether state that will soon be the third most populous in the nation.

Gov. Scott's proposal represents a significant step toward a goal that has been at the forefront of the agenda for the current UF board of trustees and generations of UF leaders before our time. Now, the proposed funding goes to the Florida Legislature for consideration, and I would like to conclude this message by asking for your support in encouraging its members to get behind the proposal.

Please visit the Gators for Higher Education website at http://g4he.ufl.edu, click on "join" and then "register today" to sign up and become an advocate for UF. The site provides information on how to contact your state representative and state senator. We hope you will make those contacts and urge your elected officials to support the proposal.

Today's developments create a golden opportunity to show that given quality resources, the University of Florida can compete with the best public research universities in the nation. I hope you'll join me in supporting the proposal and in elevating UF to the top 10 .

Go Gators!

Reach Jim Turner at jturner@sunshinestatenews.com or at (772) 215-9889.

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