From Budget Cuts to Florida Tomorrow…

Welcome back to a new academic year!


September 12, 2007



Welcome back to a new academic year! We have a record number of new faculty who have joined the college, 15 in all, and enrollments in several graduate programs have increased. Among the new faculty appointees is the inaugural holder of the David Lawrence Jr. Endowed Chair in Early Childhood Studies, Dr. Patricia Snyder, who comes to UF most recently from Vanderbilt University. Everyone got a chance to meet the new faculty at a reception Sept. 7 at the Thomas Center, and we will have our traditional ice cream social for students, new and old, Sept. 26 from 2 – 4 p.m. in the courtyard.

Although each new year begins with the promise of great things to come, this year will be especially challenging as we grapple, for the first time since I’ve been dean, with the impact of significant budget cuts. The challenge will be to maintain quality programs and expand new initiatives in the context of declining state support. Two years ago, a collegewide meeting was held to focus on strengthening and enhancing the research culture within the college. Under the leadership of Associate Dean Paul Sindelar, we made great progress, and as result, grant submissions – and success rates – are significantly up as evidenced in research bulletins issued each month from the Office of Educational Research. At a meeting on Aug. 31, many faculty, department chairs and deans met to strategize on ways to retool the college to cut costs and seek more revenue through non-state sources. In subsequent columns, I will report on our successes in these endeavors.

Clearly, one potent source of revenue is through increased donor and foundation gifts. On Sept. 28, UF will officially kick off its capital campaign, “Florida Tomorrow”, and we have several exciting activities planned that day in our college around the theme of technology and education. The college’s campaign target is set at a high bar – $20 million – but I am confident that with the strong support of loyal alumni and friends of education, we will not only reach this target but exceed it before the campaign officially ends in 2012. A complete list of the college’s and P.K. Yonge’s campaign goals will be available on the college’s development and alumni affairs website next month, along with a description of other initiatives that will need continuing support to enable them to achieve even greater success.

In future columns, I will keep everyone informed of new directions the college will take in response to the rapidly changing financial landscape in our state. Now entering my sixth year as dean, I continue to be impressed and amazed at the wealth of talent, energy, and ideas we have in our college, and I expect us to have another excellent year. While it’s easy to become discouraged when faced with a budget crisis, I remind everyone of an old Chinese proverb: “Every crisis brings great opportunity.” I am confident we will find creative ways to take advantage of the multiple opportunities that are presented to us, often unexpectedly, and position ourselves well for a future where education matters more than ever in a global environment.

– Dean Catherine Emihovich