UF Recruiting Top Minds in Push to Become Top 10 University

By: Allison Nielsen | Posted: January 7, 2014 3:55 AM
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The University of Florida really wants to climb its way to the top 10 of national public research universities -- and to do so, UF intends to recruit the top minds in a variety of fields from personalized medicine, unmanned vehicles, and online learning.

UF already had committed to its goal of propelling itself into the top 10 of national public research universities by bringing on as many as 100 researchers with $13.3 million from the state in a plan the university calls UF Rising.

The plan is a push to propel the largest university in the state to the top of the top, complete with catchy YouTube videos and a social media overhaul to gather support on the university’s path to cracking the top 10.

On Monday, UF President Bernie Machen announced that UF would be bringing on more -- about 30 -- of the top minds to UF using an additional $4.7 million of combined state and university funds to help recruit the best talent to the school.

Machen emphasized the importance of state legislation which has also allowed the university to develop a system of online higher education in the Sunshine State.

Monday marked the first day of classes for UF Online, Florida’s first fully online four-year bachelor's degree program at a public university. The same legislation also granted UF the money to push for pre-eminence. In November, the Board of Governors approved UF’s pre-eminence plan, which would allow the university to recruit faculty in areas like big data, drug discovery and plant genomics.

“The state’s generous investment allows us to make a mass hire and to do it strategically,” said Machen. “The idea is to bring in teams of researchers in fields where we’re already on the cusp of top national stature. Adding university resources to this initiative should increase the likelihood of breakthrough discoveries, greater educational opportunities, a spike in federal research dollars for Florida, more spinoff companies and creation of jobs.”

Provost Joseph Glover used the state-funded hiring surge to encourage cluster hires and interdisciplinary teams of faculty members to be hired in a collaborative cross-college process coordinated by deans.

“The increasingly complex problems we face in society usually can’t be solved with a single kind of expertise,” Glover said. “Throwing more minds at a question won’t necessarily accelerate discovery if they all attack a problem using the same toolbox.”

Reach Tampa-based reporter Allison Nielsen at or follow her on Twitter at @AllisonNielsen.

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