UF faculty, students: President not acting in best interest of university


Students and faculty at the University of Florida formed a rally April 7 to protest budget cuts during a gloomy recession that is hitting close to home for state universities.

The event, which took place at the center of campus, was co-sponsored by United Faculty of Florida, Graduate Assistants United and Coalition Save Our Schools.

John Biro, spokesman for the UF United Faculty of Florida, said the problem had mostly to do with university administration not making decisions in the best interest of students or the faculty.

He said UF President, Dr. James Bernard Machen, said the recession is a historic opportunity to change the university.

But Biro also said the changes were unwarranted.

“The president hasn’t imposed a hiring freeze but continues to lay off and hire as he pleases,” Biro said. “Not imposing hiring freezes allows the president to change the university as he wants.”

But Jeanine Sikes, a spokeswoman for UF, said it has been under a hiring freeze since
July 2007.

Sikes also said cutting $75 million from the university’s budget would require some tough decision-making.

Kathryn Ranhorn, a founding member of a new student group, Coalition to Save our Schools, and 3rd year pre-med student, said the three programs on the table to be cut are the religion, geology and communication sciences disorders programs.

The first seven faculty members to be fired, due to the president’s restructuring, were all foreign-born, Ranhorn said.

“It’s not fair,” Ranhorn said. “The president speaks loud about diversity, so this makes no sense at all.”

Sikes said the firings were purely coincidental.

“The decision was made by the dean of liberal arts, not the president,” Sikes said.

Spokesman for the Graduate Students Union Bret Seferian, said the rally accomplished
two goals.

The first goal was to draw attention to bad state budget cuts.

The second was to take action on the UF campus, he said.

“Departments may have cuts up to 10 percent,” Seferian said. “No one is speaking out in support of the president.”


• Students signed two petitions to send to state legislators.

• UF is still hiring despite a hiring freeze.

• UF receives 25 percent less state funding than its peer institutions. UF could cut $75 million from its budget.

Source: United Faculty of Florida, UF Chapter

E-mail Josh Gore at [email protected]