I was motivated by an e-mail from the UFF urging us to e-mail our state representatives. Here’s my e-mail to Larry Cretul, the temporary Speaker of the House and my county’s representative.
To the honorable Larry Cretul:
As a faculty member at the University of Florida, I urge you to support higher education by helping exert reasoned debate and a long-term view about the budget for the state’s universities.
Significant cuts to the universities’ budgets will have an impact far beyond the next few funding cycles.
Having taught at UF for almost 20 years and having previously taught in the public schools for 12 years, I can comment on the significant differences in faculty hiring and retention between the two. In the public schools, many of the teachers are interested in locating in that particular community, often bacause it is their hometown. Once public school teachers receive tenure, most stay in the school district throughout their careers. At the university level, most hiring is based on recruiting faculty or graduate students from other institutions based on the university’s reputation overall and the reputation of the department of the potential faculty member’s area of expertise. Faculty members often move to another university for a better job situation.
By creating an uncertain job future for new faculty, the legislature would be hurting the Florida universities’ efforts to recruit top faculty members. In addition, many current faculty members are now job hunting, as they consider the job situation at UF (or at the other state universities) to be unpredictable. A significant budget cut for higher education will greatly hinder faculty hiring and retention. If we hope higher education can fulfill the many goals the legislature and the citizens of Florida have for the universities, being able to hire and retain quality faculty members is a key.
The state’s and the country’s economic condition requires changes in funding and spending on an organizational and individual basis. However, I encourage you and your colleagues to weigh the immediate benefits of cutting the universities’ budgets with the years-to-come impact that cuts will make. In my years at UF, I have seen both UF and the other state universities rise in stature on a national level. That really does translate into strong teachers and researchers who will stay in Florida to teach undergraduates and graduate student, conduct research, gain grants and provide service to the people of Florida.
Thank you for your consideration.