TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – All 12 Florida universities will benefit from $121 million in two new programs designed to help the schools attract top-level professors and reward high-performing graduate schools.
The University of Florida will receive the largest share at more than $27 million, and some schools will be effectively penalized because they lack key graduate programs or because of their size.
But the distribution is designed to provide the schools with money they “can leverage to recruit and retain the very best faculty, enrich professional and graduate school strength and viability and bring aging infrastructure and research laboratories into the 21st Century,” Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, said when he announced the initiative earlier this year.
The two new programs are embedded in the state budget (SB 2500), which must be reviewed and approved by Gov. Rick Scott, who has threatened to veto all or parts of the spending plan.
The budget includes $71 million for the “world class faculty and scholar” program, which will allow the universities to recruit and retain “exemplary” professors and researchers, according to a related bill (SB 374).
The money can be spent on initiatives like hiring “clusters” of top-level researchers from other universities, developing commercial research projects, awarding outstanding performances and supporting more research by undergraduates.
The top half-dozen recipients of the “world class” funding include the University of Florida, $13.3 million; Florida State University, $11.7 million; the University of Central Florida, $11.3 million; the University of South Florida, $10.5 million; Florida International University, $7.1 million; and Florida Atlantic University, $4.3 million.
New College of Florida, the smallest institution in the system with about 850 students, will receive $2.1 million from the program. The funding formula rewards the school for its recognition from national publications like U.S. News and World Report and the Princeton Review.
Another $50 million was included in the state budget for a new program designed to improve “the quality and excellence” of medical, law and business graduate schools. The funding can be used for faculty hires, student research “and other strategic endeavors to elevate the national and global prominence” of the schools, according to the legislation.
The top recipients of the graduate school funding include the University of Florida, $13.9 million; Florida State University, $9.5 million; Florida International University, $8.9 million; the University of South Florida, $5.7 million; the University of Central Florida, $4.3 million; and Florida Atlantic University, $2.25 million.
Florida A&M University will receive $1.96 million from the new graduate-school program and $1.75 million from the “world class” program.
Funding from both programs for the remaining schools include the University of North Florida, $4.7 million; Florida Gulf Coast University, $3.7 million; the University of West Florida, $2.7 million; and Florida Polytechnic University, $660,000.
Some schools received less money simply because they are much smaller institutions, including New College and Florida Polytechnic, the state's newest university.
Under the graduate-school funding, Florida International, Florida State and the University of Florida had an advantage since those are the only three institutions with medical, law and business graduate schools.