From John Biro, University of Florida chapter president of the United Faculty of Florida:
Before the Administration imposes the draconian budget cuts it claims are unavoidable, it owes the faculty answers to these questions:
1. Why, instead of imposing a hiring freeze, is it continuing with extensive hiring? Today’s Chronicle of Higher Education lists over a hundred searches at UF, compared with a total of nine at all the other SUS institutions. About fifty of these have been posted since the first of April, long after the Administration knew the size of the cuts UF was facing. New postings appeared as recently as yesterday.
2. What are the commitments it has made that have reduced the reserves from the audited figure of $111m at the end of the last fiscal year to the $75m it now admits to? Why are these commitments more important than the programs it proposes to cut?
3. Why has it refused to agree to restore funding to the programs being cut, should the legislature prove true to its promise that the cuts are for only one year?
4. Why have some administrators received huge salary increases at a time when faculty are being asked to tighten their belts and staff are being fired from already-understaffed colleges and departments? The Provost’s $50,000 raise alone could fund the salary and benefits of a staff member, or the entire ‘Operating Expenses’ budget of a good-sized department.
The Administration claims to believe in and to practice shared governance. Yet it is making far-reaching decisions without explaining its reasons for them. To say only that spending reserves to avoid cutting is “not a viable option for UF”, as President Machen did recently, is not acceptable. Instead of asking the faculty which limb it prefers to have amputated, he should explain why the patient is in need of the knife at all. And if the explanation is, as he and Provost Glover have often hinted, that the administration is using the budget cuts by the state as an opportunity to pursue its priorities at the expense of faculty and staff in existing programs, those priorities should, at the very least, be subject to public scrutiny and debate.