Former FAU campus in Port St. Lucie to be leased to Indian River State College

Dylan Bouscher

Click to enlarge. Designed by Phaedra Blaize

Raising tuition is one way to deal with budget cuts — renting out campuses is another.

When FAU absorbed a $24.7 million budget cut over the summer, administrators suspended two campuses and raised tuition 15 percent — the maximum percentage allowed — to deal with the cuts.

The former Treasure Coast campus, located in Port St. Lucie, was abandoned June 29. The cuts took effect when the new fiscal year started July 1.

It was June 19 when the university’s board of trustees (BOT) — FAU’s 13 highest ranking officials — voted to suspend the campus.

But the university was prepared to lease the campus before that. Negotiations with Indian River State College (IRSC), the community college sharing the campus, started in May, according to Vice President for Financial Affairs Dennis Crudele.

“At this time, there are no contracts, leases or other agreements,” a university spokesperson told the UP when FAU suspended the campus in July. “We are only in the conversation stages right now.”

FAU President Mary Jane Saunders did not confirm the campus leasing plans were final until the Oct. 18 BOT meeting.

“We’re moving along that path,” Saunders said. “That’s an agreement that’s probably very close to being finalized.”

Saunders is referring to a Facility Use Agreement, which becomes public record once FAU and IRSC sign it. The UP attempted to reach IRSC President Edwin Massey, but he could not be reached for comment as of press time.

“It made sense to work with IRSC in meeting space needs they currently may have,” Crudele wrote the UP in an email.

Back in April, the university surveyed faculty and staff to see how they felt the budget cuts should be addressed. Of the 1,275 faculty members at the time, over 210 recommended suspending the campus along with the Jupiter, Davie, Fort Lauderdale and Dania Beach (SeaTech) campuses.

Assistant professor Mustafa Berber taught environmental and geomatics engineering on the Treasure Coast campus in Port St. Lucie during the spring.

“It will not be good, everything will be disrupted,” Berber told the UP in April. “We don’t know what the future holds.”

When FAU suspended the Port St. Lucie campus, there were 247 students enrolled, which was less than 1 percent of the university’s total enrollment.

Suspending the campus saved FAU $1.4 million, according to Crudele. But he could not say if leasing the Port St. Lucie campus meant the university would make a profit after four months of negotiations.

“We are still in discussions with IRSC; any reference to revenue expectation at this point is premature,” Crudele wrote in an email.