UNF Board of Trustees seeks $10 million for new faculty and other internal changes

Alan Vargas

UNF has a problem.

The University has received a total of $7 million from the Board of Governor’s performance-based funding system in the last four years and was ranked dead last out of 16 public Florida universities in 2017.

For comparison, the University of Florida, who has consistently ranked as the top public Florida institution, according to the metrics, has received $192 million over the same period.

Thus, upon taking office, new UNF President David Szymanski was challenged by the Board of Governors to turn the school around.

“We will win at the metrics through student success,” Szymanski told the UNF Board of Trustees during his presentation at the October Board of Trustees meeting.

He also laid out his strategy for “winning” at the metrics during the most recent November Board of Trustees meeting. To achieve student success, Szymanski reportedly plans to emphasize three pillars that he believes will affect several of the metrics that are currently lacking. The three pillars are scholarships, service excellence and faculty excellence.

At the October BoT meeting, the board voted to reallocate $2.5 million to scholarships for Spring 2019. This commitment by the board is intended to give UNF more points in the battle for the metrics. Working towards one of Szymanski’s pillars, scholarships, should help bring down total tuition costs and help retain students, which are metrics #3 and #5.

Plus, at the Nov. 1 BoT meeting, the board gave its blessing for UNF to submit a Legislative Budget Request, which asks for $10,794,840 from the state legislature. If funded, the money would be used to hire 70 new faculty members across the University.

The plan is to hire 32 new educators in fields of strategic emphasis, such as STEM, transportation and logistics, computing, analytics and healthcare. The cost of the educator salaries would be $3,200,000, which averages out to $100,000 per educator.

The proposal also seeks to address the single biggest academic issue facing students: math.

According to the LBR, 3,000 students receive a D, F or W  in lower-level math courses each year. To address the issue, a new Math Center would be developed that focuses on effectively teaching mathematics by using innovative methods such as flipped classrooms and emporium dynamics.

Finally, the LBR proposes hiring 38 faculty members in A&P (Administrative and Professional) and USPS (University Service Personnel System) departments to accomplish President Szymanski’s second pillar: service excellence.

The goal of this significant upgrade would be to create a team of advisers that work with each student to navigate college. The team would consist of a financial aid adviser to help with costs, as well as an academic adviser to help students pick courses and stay on track to graduate on time. Students would also have a career adviser who would help with internships and finding the best job after graduation.

These changes, along with other expansions of Student Services, are designed to help boost 9 out of the 10 metrics. The tenth metric is chosen by the University, so it should be the easiest to earn the maximum number of points possible and was not considered by the aforementioned proposal.

2019-2020 UNF LBR

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