Dozens of students from the University of South Florida are standing side by side with President Rhea Law, trustees and other university leaders in Tallahassee on Tuesday to advocate for the university’s priorities in the 2022 state legislative session that began last week.
For students, USF Day at the Capitol provides a unique opportunity to get an up-close look at the legislative process, interact with members of the legislature and tour the state capitol complex, including the House chamber, Senate chamber and Supreme Court. Students also participate in a series of panel discussions with legislators, lobbyists and journalists to further understand each of their perspectives on the legislative process.
Among those joining President Law in Tallahassee are Board of Trustees Chair Will Weatherford, Vice Chair Mike Griffin, St. Petersburg Campus Regional Chancellor Martin Tadlock and Sarasota-Manatee Campus Regional Chancellor Karen Holbrook, as they spend the day meeting with lawmakers to discuss USF’s priorities this year.
Included in the priorities:
- A $50 million increase in recurring dollars for USF’s operational budget through preeminence/national rankings funds. Supported by the Florida Board of Governors, USF’s legislative budget request would help continue an upward trajectory toward the top 25 public universities in America. The funding would allow USF to hire new faculty members across a wide range of disciplines to enhance student success outcomes and increase the total amount of research dollars drawn to Florida each year.
- At least $30 million to begin construction of the USF Environmental & Oceanographic Sciences Research & Teaching Facility on the St. Petersburg campus. The $80 million project would be the centerpiece of USF’s Interdisciplinary Center of Excellence in Environmental and Oceanographic Sciences, leveraging faculty expertise from colleges throughout the university to address challenges created by climate change, including sea level rise, high-tide flooding events and other coastal hazards. It will bring a variety of new undergraduate and graduate programs to the St. Petersburg campus and is envisioned as a national destination for students and researchers studying issues related to the environment, oceanography and sustainability.
- An investment of $18.6 million to remodel bioscience facility research labs on the USF Tampa campus. The funding would allow USF to reconfigure existing, outdated individual bioscience research labs into modern, shared-space open labs to expand the capacity and capability of the building to support high-impact STEM research and teaching. Updating the facility to allow additional research groups to simultaneously conduct their projects can help generate millions in new research dollars annually.
A request of $3 million to plan for the construction of a new academic STEM facility at the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus. The primary academic facility on the campus is completely full, and building a new 50,000-square-foot facility would allow for the expansion of degree program offerings in the STEM fields to many more students than can currently be served. The full cost of the facility is $49.5 million and the initial investment would allow the project to move forward with architectural plans, environmental and other early stage construction in the next fiscal year to expedite the time it will take for the new facility to be open for students.
For anyone interested in becoming a Bulls Advocate and supporting USF through the legislative process, more information is available here.