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University Presidents Paint Dire Picture

April 23rd, 2009 by Mike Vasilinda

In a rare show of strength, 10 of the 11 State University Presidents were at the state capitol today pitching for more money. Across the state, as Mike Vasilinda tells us, college will be harder to get into and many programs wont be available under current funding plans.

Universities will lose 500 million in the House budget, but just half that much in the Senate plan. But either way, the news is not good.

It takes generations to build universities but they can be destroyed in a very short period of time, Mitch Maidique, Florida International University president said. This is Armageddon for the state university system.

Dozens of programs at every school are on the chopping block.

Summer school in 2010 is just out of the question, FAMU president Dr. James Ammons said.

And if you are a community college student, good luck transferring.

We have to let go over 300 full-time faculty members, we just cant teach the number of students were teaching now, so more students are going to be denied admission, University of Central Florida president John Hitt said.

At a meeting with the Governor, the Presidents were urged to be patient and not to say bad things about lawmakers just yet.

Senate Education Chairman Don Gaetz is trying to convince House negotiators his plan does less damage. So far the answer has been no.

So I think its going to take some discussion, its going to take some hard bargaining. And there are people of good faith and good will on both sides, Gaetz said.

Even major business groups like the Florida Chamber are writing to the House Speaker, saying you cant make the kind of cuts youre talking about.

Students who do get into a Florida college will pay more next year under legislation moving through both chambers. But even a 15% hike will not stop faculty from leaving
and programs from being cut.

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