Gov. Rick Scott announced his plan Monday to give the University of Florida $15 million a year for five years.
During a press conference Monday morning in UF’s Nanoscale Research Facility, Scott announced his goal to put $15 million a year into UF for five years. It still needs approval by the state Legislature.
“It will be at the end of that time frame, we will have a top 10 university,” Scott said.
He said the university would put $15 million on the private side, and there will be specific benchmarks that UF would have to meet.
These plans come a month after UF President Bernie Machen decided to stay on as president with the goal of making UF a top 10 university.
Scott said making UF a top 10 university would create more opportunities for Florida families to get jobs.
After the press conference, UF spokeswoman Janine Sikes said the university doesn’t have plans yet on how to match the $15 million. She said it is still early in the process.
Student Body President TJ Villamil said the money would go toward hiring faculty. He said UF has more students per faculty member than other comparable universities.
UF’s faculty-to-student ratio is 21 students to one faculty member, according to U.S. News and World Report. Public universities with similar student populations, such as the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, have a 14-1 ratio.
Villamil said he thinks moving UF to a top 10 university will have a “trickle down” effect for other universities in the state.
“It’s great to see the commitment the governor is making as a whole,” he said.
Although UF is singled out with the $15 million, Scott said he would work with other universities who are focused on becoming a top 10 university.
Scott announced his Florida Families First budget two weeks ago, which includes public universities getting $390 million of increased funding.
“Two years ago, we made the tough choices to live within our means and get our economy back on track. Because we made the hard choices two years ago, we have to make the smart choices now,” Scott said.
Scott also announced another initiative, which includes $100 million for constructing a science, technology, engineering or math building. Up to four universities can get the money, awarded by the Board of Governors, for construction of a STEM building.
Sikes said UF’s proposal is for a $30 million new chemistry building.
Scott also mentioned a plan to have a fixed tuition rate for students who finish college in four years.
“I’m sure the journey will be a lot of fun,” Scott said.
Alex de Armas contributed video reporting.