FAU poised to lose $7 million in funding due to poor academic performance

FAU falls far behind other Florida schools on academic performance, and that may cost them $7 million in state funding.

On Thursday, June 19, the Board of Governors — the board that oversees all 12 state universities — approved a new budget plan that takes $100 million of money budgeted for Florida universities and divides it up based on which schools have the best academic success and affordability.

Information Courtesy of the Florida State University System Infographic by Lulu Ramadan
Source: Florida State University System Infographic by Lulu Ramadan

FAU falls last on that list.

The model is based on university characteristics like graduation rate, job placement, cost per degree and retention rate, among other things. Because of poor performance in these areas, FAU won’t get a cut of the funding and will instead lose $7 million in funding.

FAU, University of West Florida and New College of Florida are all set to lose funding. Florida Polytechnic University, which officially opens in August, is unaffected by this new model. The remaining eight state universities will divide up the $100 million.

According to Chancellor of the State University System Marshall Criser III, that money isn’t lost completely. The three universities losing funding have an opportunity to restore it through an improvement plan.

“Our goal is not to take money away from any institution,” Criser said. “What I believe that this plan does is demonstrates that the State University System understands the importance of investing students’ dollars and taxpayers’ dollars in the quality of the education we provide for our students.”

Source: Florida State University System (Infographic by Lulu Ramadan)

FAU’s plan for improvement was approved by the BOG on Wednesday, June 18. With the second lowest graduation rate in the state, FAU is focusing on improving academically. According to FAU Spokesperson Lisa Metcalf, some of the changes being implemented are as follows:

  • Appointing a new assistant provost for student success, whose sole role is to develop strategies to enhance student retention and progress toward a degree
  • Hiring 26 more academic advisors
  • Simplifying the course registration process
  • Improving class scheduling
  • Fine tuning transfer credit evaluation

The plan does not detail the specifics of how course registration and class scheduling will be simplified.

Source: The Chronicle of Higher Education (Infographic by Lulu Ramadan)

According to Criser, FAU can restore 50 percent of its funding halfway through the year if the state sees improvement. At the end of the year, the universities are reevaluated and, if the plan works, FAU can restore the full $7 million.

“We want to ensure that our public universities are concerned with our students’ educations,” Criser said. “And just as much as those things are important to our students, we also think they’re important to our taxpayers who invest in our public universities.”

University President John Kelly, who recently started the job and oversaw the development of the new improvement plan, is hopeful that the total funding will be restored by fiscal year’s end in July 2015.

“This well-designed plan was praised by the Board of Governors as a model improvement plan and approved by the board at its meeting last week. Several items in the plan are already in motion,” Kelly said in an email. “I am confident in the success of the plan and that our performance funding will be  fully restored.”