Final Legisletter for the 2015 Session (PDF)

Legislative Priorities - 2015

Each year, Florida State University administrators identify legislative priorities determined to be vital to the operation and growth of the University. Below are the top three legislative priorities for 2015.

1.     Increase preeminence funding and supplement the STEM programs -- $10 million

During the 2013 session, the legislature established criteria for state universities to meet in order to achieve preeminent status. Florida State University has maintained those standards, and thereby its annual base budget is currently supplemented by $20 million.

Preeminence funding these past two years has allowed Florida State to hire 36 new faculty members in the fields of energy and materials sciences, brain research, coastal and marine sciences, and other disciplines. Preeminence dollars have also allowed the University to employ 9 entrepreneurs in residence to teach students how to turn their ideas and innovations into practical enterprises. An additional $5 million in preeminence funding is requested from the Legislature in 2015 for the University to remain competitive in its efforts to attract top-tier faculty.

STEM programs are central to Florida State’s preeminence designation and performance excellence, yet STEM curricula are among the most expensive to administer. With continued growth anticipated for these programs, an additional $5 million specifically for STEM education is requested.

Performance-based funding, which was instituted last year and allocated to state universities that exceeded benchmarks established by the Board of Governors, augmented Florida State’s 2014 budget by $21 million. The University anticipates again surpassing the BOG standards and for that reason expansion of the performance-based funding model is also a priority for 2015.

The investments above will be essential to Florida State moving into the Top 25 in the country among public universities.

2.     Augment funding for University facilities

Funding for the construction of new facilities, renovations and expansions of existing structures, and general maintenance has fallen far short of the University’s needs because of diminishing Public Education Capital Outlay (PECO) funds, growth in enrollment and programs, and the impact of the recent recession. Consequently, Florida State projects that are priorities for augmented facilities funding include:

A.  Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science (EOAS) Building – This complex, which has been partially funded for construction, is designed to create an environment where earth-science disciplines can interact in a collaborative and interdisciplinary manner of providing instruction, conducting research, and expanding public service. The facility will provide space for classrooms, teaching labs, study space, research laboratories, and administrative and academic-support functions. Request for construction phase: $36.1 million

B.  STEM Teaching Lab – To maintain its preeminent status, Florida State University has made significant investments in both the hiring of STEM faculty and their particular research activities. The STEM Teaching Lab, however, is a structure designed to provide laboratory instruction to students in undergraduate STEM majors – particularly those in Chemistry and Physics, whose lab work currently takes place in an old, deficient general sciences building – with an updated space that provides centralized resources and interdisciplinary opportunities for state-of-the-art laboratory experiences. Request for planning phase: $2.2 million

C.  Interdisciplinary Research and Commercialization Building (IRCB) – STEM faculty in the physical sciences and engineering increasingly share core facilities, including interdisciplinary research labs, since these arrangements facilitate collaborations across department and colleges that can lead to unanticipated discoveries. Through construction of the IRCB, Florida State will take a significant step toward this new model of research space that is open and flexible, and has the ability to grow and adapt to change. Additionally, the IRCB will provide incubator space for the development of start-up companies based on University inventions and discoveries, and the commercialization of its intellectual property. Request for planning phase: $5 million

The above facilities-funding requests come in spite of increases to the PECO Trust Fund during the 2014 legislative session, since trust fund returns take time to mature. Additionally, new legislation is needed that will give universities more financing flexibility through public-private partnerships to address the backlog of private gifts for educational facilities that qualify for state matching grants. 

3.     Reinstate the Courtelis Facilities Matching Gift Program

In 2008, the legislature suspended payments to the Courtelis Matching program and gifts that qualified for a match since then were placed on a priority list that is tracked by the Board of Governors. In 2011, the program itself was suspended and, consequently, no gifts from that point forward qualified for a match. However, Florida State University still had more than $10.5 million in prior gifts waiting to be matched prior to Courtelis being suspended. These donations are critical to the construction of facilities and Florida State requests this program be reinstated and the prior-gift backlog be fully funded.

Special Session Budget Update (PDF)

Legislative Session Ends

Legislative Priorities - 2014

Each year, Florida State University administrators identify priorities determined to be vital to the operation and growth of the university. Below were the top three priorities for the 2014 Legislative Session, which began on March 4th and ended on May 5th. Session outcomes are listed after each priority.

1. Support for the continuation of preeminence performance funding – $15 million

Last session the legislature passed SB 1076, which established performance standards state universities need to meet in order to be granted preeminent status. Currently, only FSU and UF meet those criteria. Florida State University’s annual base budget is supplemented by $15 million, but additional preeminence funds are requested. Additional system metrics are also in development and are tied to separate performance funds. This funding will also be a priority.

Outcome: The Legislature included an additional $5 million, on top of the $15 million for preeminence to Florida State University for a total of $20 million in recurring preeminence funds annually. In addition, $200 million in performance funds, tied to a separate set of BOG prepared metrics passed the legislature for the State University System. Performance funds total an additional $21 million of new revenue for Florida State University this fiscal year

2. Support facilities funding

New facilities, renovations, and the expansion of existing facilities, as well as funding for general maintenance, has fallen short of the university’s needs because of diminishing Public Education Capital Outlay (PECO) funds, enrollment and programmatic growth, and the impact of the recession. To address these critical needs, state universities have established the “Hard Hats for Higher Education” campaign. This initiative will involve both fiscal and policy issues, including requests for non-recurring dollars for priority projects and building-maintenance needs, legislation that gives universities more financing flexibility through public/private partnerships, and addressing the backlog of private gifts for educational facilities that qualify for state matching grants. The top three projects on FSU's priority list are:

  1. FAMU-FSU College of Engineering III -- This request involves a joint-use project between Florida State University and Florida A&M University that will provide approximately 75,000 sq. ft. of space for the Colleges operations. $15 million requested
    Outcome: $10,000,000 appropriated for this building.
  2. EOAS (Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science) Building -- The two-phased EOAS complex will be the focus of earth, ocean and atmospheric sciences. The idea is to create an environment where earth science disciplines such as these can interact in a collaborative effort to teach, conduct research, and public service. The facility will provide space primarily for classroom/teaching lab, study, research lab, administrative and academic support functions. $30 million requested
    Outcome: $20,000,000 appropriated for this building

    Building Maintenance -- The University's utility systems, infrastructure, and physical plant continue to be in need of renovation and expansion to keep pace with the growth of the campus population.
    Outcome: $5,681,291 appropriated to FSU. Additionally, the legislature passed within the larger tax package legislation, an initiative that will fortify the current Public Education Capitol Outlay (PECO) trust fund over the next three years. The PECO trust fund money is earmarked for the building, renovation and maintenance of education facilities.

3. Support for veterans initiatives

In its ongoing effort to be the most veteran-friendly university in the nation, Florida State has taken the lead in advocating for in-state tuition for veterans, regardless of their state of residency. These efforts were launched at a Capitol press conference during September’s interim committee meetings. In addition to former FSU President Eric Barron, the press conference included Student Body President Rosie Contreras and current student-veteran Andrew Wright Sloan.

Outcome: The first bill to pass the 2014 Legislative Session was HB 7015 that creates the “Congressman C.W. Bill Young Veteran Tuition Waiver Program,” which waives out-of-state fees for honorably discharged veterans of the United States Armed Forces, the United States Reserve Forces, and the National Guard. The bill also appropriates $5 million in recurring funds to the Florida Department of Military Affairs to pay the tuition and fees for certain deployed Florida National Guard members at a state university or Florida College System institution; and $250,000 in nonrecurring funds for information technology upgrades to administer this program. Additionally, the bill revises Florida’s veterans’ preference in employment statutes to include all veterans, and not just wartime and disabled veterans, as well as members of the Florida National Guard and the United States Armed Forces Reserves.

The bill appropriates a total of $26.55 million in General Revenue for tuition assistance and its administration, base buffering, and armory renovations.


University Officials respond to New York Times Article

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Top 25 Plan

Florida State's "Top 25" plan is designed to advance the University to a top 25 national ranking among public universities. A summary of the plan is provided below and the original 8-page proposal is available here for download.

Objectives of the "Top 25" plan include enhancing Florida State University excellence, achieving greater national prominence, and facilitating better job opportunities for FSU students.

  • According to US News and World Report, seven states have at least one university ranked in the top 10; Florida has none, despite it being the fourth most populous state in the country.
  • Eleven states, including Texas, Virginia and Georgia, have two or more universities that rank higher than Florida's second-highest ranked public university.
  • When the University of Florida and Florida State University achieve their ranking goals, the State of Florida would pass Texas and tie Georgia.
  • A university's high national ranking correlates with student-career success.
  • When FSU attains its Top 25 ranking, it will also be more of a state and national leader in student-career readiness and job placement.
  • Florida State University is achieving excellence more efficiently than any other research university, as evidenced by its top ranking in efficiency by US News and World Report two years in a row.
  • According to US News and World Report, FSU has been ranked No. 40 among publics and No. 91 among all universities, substantially higher than just 2008.
  • Florida State University is also poised to be a national leader in the STEM fields.
  • The Top 25 proposal includes a $20 million investment of state dollars per year for 5 years, with a dollar-for-dollar match in private funds
  • With this annual allocation by the state of $20 million, FSU will:
    • Become one of the top universities in the nation in the mathematical, physical, and natural sciences and heighten the interest of firms and students by:
      • Hiring 200 faculty in key STEM fields and provide the infrastructure needed to support them
      • Recruiting national academy-level faculty
      • Attracting STEM student scholars
      • Becoming the state's top producer of STEM degrees in mathematical, physical and natural sciences
    • Become one of the most entrepreneurial universities in the nation by expanding our entrepreneurship program campus-wide to give all students the opportunity to learn fundamental business practices and enhance their career potential
    • Result in significant successes for FSU and the State of Florida through this joint strategic investment, including:
      • Achieving a top 25 public university rank
      • Achieving national leadership in STEM
      • FSU becoming a national leader in job readiness and career placement