As members of the University of Florida Board of Trustees meet in Gainesville, president Bernie Machen announced he has told the board his resignation will take effect at the end of 2013. A letter from the president has been sent to university employees via email. Meanwhile, Machen has told trustees he would now support a nine percent tuition increase, instead of the 15 percent allowed by law. The full board has not voted on the tuition hike or the budget.
Letter from President Machen to the UF community:
June 8, 2012
Dear members of the University of Florida community,
Today, I informed the UF Board of Trustees of my intention to step down as president next year. As the Board begins the search for my successor, I am committed to continuing my leadership until the university is ready for a smooth transition.
My service at Florida’s top public university and one of the most comprehensive public universities in the nation has been a privilege. I will have served as president for almost 10 years, and I have been fortunate to work with many exceptionally smart and dedicated faculty, staff and students. The experience has been fulfilling and inspiring for me as well as my wife, Chris, and we thank you for all your dedication and support for the university throughout our time here.
You – the faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends – have a great deal to be proud of. Amid a very difficult period for higher education, we have built a stronger, more dynamic, more forward-thinking university. This is clear foremost in our faculty, whose honors, research productivity and leadership roles in major scientific collaborations stand out as major achievements. Six UF professors have joined the National Academies since 2004, and our faculty have been at the forefront of many of the major scientific collaborations of our era, from the world’s largest optical telescope in Spain to the Collider Detector at Fermilab in Chicago to the National Ecological Observatory Network. Contracts and grants have climbed from $470 million in fiscal year 2003-04 to $619 million last fiscal year.
As we are one of the nation’s land grant universities, much of our research has been focused on matters of public concern. We have contributed to environmental stewardship with the formation of the UF Water Institute, to the nation’s political future with the Bob Graham Center for Public Service, and to better medical care with the Clinical and Translational Science Institute. Building on the legacies of Gatorade and the glaucoma drug Trusopt, we have helped more UF discoveries improve lives, nurturing innovation through Innovation Square and the Florida Innovation Hub.
Many new facilities further the university’s endeavors in research, teaching, athletics, cultural affairs and student life. These include several major new research buildings: Pugh Hall at the historic center of our campus; the breathtaking Cofrin Asian Art Wing; and the expansive Southwest Recreation Center. As our physical presence has grown, our financial foundation has strengthened. UF’s endowment has more than doubled since 2004 to $1.29 billion, and our donors and friends have helped to secure the university’s future with the $1.5 billion Florida Tomorrow campaign now reaching a successful conclusion.
UF’s students remain at the core of our mission and a particular point of pride. At the undergraduate level, each class of entering students eclipses the previous one in academic performance markers. We are proud that America’s largest corporations are major recruiters of our graduates, and we are also pleased that our graduates remain dedicated to public service. This year, UF ranked fourth nationwide in the number of volunteers who enter the Peace Corps, and last year, UF was fifth in Teach for America volunteers.
Our graduate programs continue to set UF apart from other universities, and our graduate enrollment has climbed, with master’s students increasing 28 percent and doctoral students 8.5 percent since 2004.
State cutbacks have prompted tuition increases and accelerated UF’s path to financial independence, yet the university has maintained its oft-noted status as one of the best values in the nation. For families in need, UF’s pioneering Florida Opportunity Scholarship has enabled 2,300 students to attend UF. Most are minorities, helping the university retain its diversity following the end of race-based admissions.
The UF athletics program continues to shine. Over the past eight years, the Gators won 10 national titles. These achievements build on UF’s enduring legacy in sports, a legacy never more clear than at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where 33 Gators from 20 countries took home 14 medals, including five gold medals.
UF has a long tradition of research and service dedicated to the environment, and we elevated that tradition by making sustainability a centerpiece of campus life. We grew our commitment to the Gainesville community with the East Campus, and we increased our presence globally with the Beijing Center for International Studies.
As we look ahead, UF faces numerous challenges, but the past few years have tested and proven this university’s remarkable resilience and resourcefulness. I feel strongly that UF rests on a firm foundation and has clear avenues for lasting growth and success. As I plan to remain here as a professor after I step down, I look forward to remaining engaged with the university and community. Once again, I want to thank all of you for your dedication and contributions. Chris and I feel truly grateful to have joined you in strengthening UF and The Gator Nation.
President, University of Florida