Strategic Realignment

Building the Future

"Rising to meet a challenge is not new to USF... Through a spirit of partnership, we will redouble our efforts to invest in new and impactful ways to be of service to our region and state as a university where excellence and opportunity converge."

Why: The Background

The University of South Florida has been engaged in budget discussions during the past year, and more intensely in the last several months and weeks, to reinforce our strong financial foundation to support our academic aspirations. In addition to the process of reinforcing our budgetary alignment, the university currently maintains strong financial reserves, which support an excellent credit rating.

The primary drivers behind this process were:

  • The unforeseeable expenses and reduced revenues associated with the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Instructions from the Board of Governors (BOG) to prepare a plan for cuts in state funding of 8.5% for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2021, and a 10% reduction in the 2022 fiscal year.

  • The need to identify permanent funding for investments made in previous years to attain the state’s targets for preeminence and performance-based funding metrics or, alternatively, were designed to meet regulatory requirements.

An 8.5% reduction from the state, if enacted, represents a reduction in funding of over $36 million. Estimated COVID-19 expenses through December 31 are estimated at $31 million. The university has received $17 million in CARES Act funding to be used for COVID-19-related expenses. In addition, $57 million of investments were previously made in programs without permanent funding identified.


In the context of these challenges, budgets across our campuses have been reviewed as part of the president’s plan for USF’s strategic renewal.

Guided by our Principles of Community, the process has been deliberative and inclusive. The provost, regional chancellors, deans, the senior vice presidents of health and business and finance, and other selected leaders were asked to discuss budget scenarios at various levels of budget reductions. Each budget unit submitted draft plans to reduce budgets with changes taking effect between now and the end of fiscal 2022. During the course of 12 days – from September 17 through September 28 – and over 70 hours, leaders individually presented the budgets of more than 40 budgetary units to a budget planning team of senior leaders led by President Currall for rigorous review and analysis.

Importantly, the individual dialogues with unit leaders reflected a fundamental principle set forth by President Currall that reductions would be made in alignment with the university’s strategic aspirations (e.g., to become a top-25 public research university). During these meetings, the president and members of his leadership team gained additional insights regarding the mission-critical endeavors within each of the units. Other principles included focuses on student success and access, protecting the upward trajectory of USF research and creative activity, and maintaining institutional excellence.

Read more about our strategy and considerations during this process.

What: The Actions

The result of this process will be a series of planned actions that will position USF for greater success while supporting financial stewardship goals.

The actions will be implemented in phases, allowing us to meet requirements from the state without impacting our university’s tremendous positive momentum. Planning targets proposed between now and June 30, 2021, would meet the 8.5% reduction required by the Board of Governors. A second phase will plot the necessary steps needed to fully balance the operational budget by June 30, 2022.

The first-phase planning targets total $36.7 million for the year ending June 30, 2021, in state-funded budgets.

They are tentatively identified as follows:

  • Colleges: reductions of $13.4 million

  • Academic support: reductions of $4.9 million

  • University business support: reductions of $6.5 million

  • USF Health: reductions of $6.9 million

  • USF St. Petersburg campus: reductions of $3.1 million

  • USF Sarasota-Manatee campus: reductions of $1.9 million

These targets do not include auxiliary enterprises, which are determining their actions based on their particular revenue streams. Read more about planning targets by unit.

 Additional Actions

In addition to these actions, President Currall instituted a salary reduction plan, effective October 2, mandating compensation cuts of 6% to 10% for his leadership team with the president taking a voluntary 15% salary reduction. A pause for hiring and salary increases was announced in early September, and university-related travel has been paused.

Additional measures have been taken or are in process to trim budgets and preserve liquidity.

These include putting on hold, where possible, new construction, renovation and deferred maintenance projects and refinancing at lower rates all eligible debt. We are also reexamining the appropriate level of reserves and the related impact on the university’s existing strong credit rating, which enables us to minimize the interest paid on university debt.

These actions – while difficult – will help USF meet its budgetary goals that support strategic investments and a focus on further strengthening USF’s commitment to academic excellence.