Legislative change threatens to take millions from USF

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The University of South Florida says a last-minute change made by lawmakers is threatening to take more than $10 million away from the university.

This year’s state budget provides $48 million to be split up among preeminent universities. Back in January, the state senate proposed a change to their preeminence program that would allow USF to earn the designation this year.

But on Friday, legislative leaders made another change to the criteria that means USF would not qualify.

Right now, the University of Florida and Florida State University are the only two preeminent universities in the state. If USF joined the ranks, each would get about $16 million. The last minute change means only UF and FSU would split the money.

USF says the move would hurt the university’s ability to recruit top students and hire high-quality faculty members.

“It is important that our state leaders fully understand the effects of arbitrary changes to our preeminence goals and metrics,” USF Board of Trustees Chair Brian Lamb said. “Shifting the goal posts at the endgame impacts the resources and facilities of USF’s students, our ability to attract the best and brightest to our university and city, the success of the Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute in downtown Tampa, and the economic growth and competitiveness of our region.”

Now, USF is calling on people throughout the Tampa Bay area for help. They want community members and business leaders, as well as USF alumni, students and faculty to contact state legislators and ask them to correct the issue when they return to Tallahassee Sunday for the end of the 2017 legislative session.

The session is scheduled to end on Monday.

You can learn more about preeminence and the call to action on USF’s website.

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