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Strategic Budget Advisory Committee (SBAC)
Strategic Budget Advisory Committee

Florida State University Set to Unveil Budget, Reorganization Plan

Dedman School of Hospitality, Panama City campus survive cutbacks

June 06, 2009

By Doug Blackburn

Florida State administrators are planning to brief faculty and staff next week on a proposed, wide-ranging reorganization plan for the university. The plan reflects three consecutive years of reductions in state funding totaling roughly $82 million.

Some programs will be suspended while others will be reorganized or restructured, FSU President T.K. Wetherell said.

“It’s not going to be fun, it’s not going to be pretty,” Wetherell said. “You come here to build a university and we wind up tearing the place apart the past year and a half.”

The plan also will be submitted to FSU’s board of trustees, which is expected to approve a three-year budget on June 17 — the board’s first meeting in more than three months.

The university’s budget crisis committee, formed last year to cope with the sharp reductions in state funding, will hold its final meeting Monday before the trustees convene. Provost Larry Abele said the goal is to have a complete plan available by Friday for faculty and trustees.

Wetherell and Abele declined to identify which programs are likely to suspended until after deans and faculty members have been informed.

In mid April, FSU administrators unveiled a list of 21 programs that could be eliminated if the university’s budget takes a $43 million hit — which is what happened. But FSU officials later insisted that the list was only hypothetical, and represented how $43 million in cuts could play out.

The Dedman School of Hospitality, on the original list of 21 programs to be eliminated, will instead be restructured, Wetherell said.

He envisions moving Dedman away from the College of Business and making it a business-related program. This should allow for a broader enrollment while reducing some restrictions on faculty.

“By restructuring it, we think we can make it self-supportive and open it to more students,” Wetherell said.

The recession has taken a toll on the endowment for the hospitality program, Wetherell noted, turning it into a money-draining operation.

Caryn Beck-Dudley, dean of the College of Business, said alumni and students are relieved that Dedman will survive. By making it a hospitality degree instead of a business degree, Dedman should more than double its current enrollment of 220 students, she said.

“It’s one of our crown jewels,” Beck-Dudley said. “We’re excited to be able to keep it.”

The April proposal also called for closing the branch campus in Panama City.

Instead, FSU wants to apply to the Board of Governors to convert the Panama City campus from a two-year (juniors and seniors) operation into a four-year college. This would involve a formal partnership with Gulf Coast Community College, located across the street from the FSU campus.

Panama City has less than 1,000 students, and needs within the next three years to grow to at least 3,000 students to be self-supporting, Wetherell said.

FSU may make the Panama City campus available to the more than 15,000 applicants the university turns away every year.

Ken Shaw, associate dean of the Panama City campus, expressed relief that Wetherell has proposed a strategy for keeping the school open. But he cautioned that absorbing a 25 percent reduction in funding while trying to grow by 300 percent represents a difficult challenge.

“It’s probably going to take several months for us to get our arms around these issues and how we do this,” Shaw said. “A lot of details have yet to be worked out.”