Several highlights include:
UF’s response to COVID
What about UF? A year and a half ago, as soon as we saw the first community spread of Covid, UF was the first university in the State of Florida to move classes online to “flatten the curve”. At that point I hadn’t heard of contact tracing and it wasn’t clear to me there would ever be a vaccine. Now, we have multiple incredibly effective vaccines and at UF we have an effective Screen, Test, and Protect program that kept us safe this past year. However, we do not have some other tools. We do not have the authority to mandate the vaccine for our students and employees, we do not have the authority to require everyone to wear a mask indoors, and we no longer have the authority to move our classes on-line.
Given our constraints, I am optimistic that our university community, UF’s students, faculty and staff will understand the importance of voluntarily doing what we cannot require and that is to get the shot and wear the mask.
Economic impact/growth at UF
We announced earlier this year that research expenditures reached a new record high of $942M in FY 2020. We are a whisker away from our goal of $1B in annual research spending.
Despite the economic challenges faced by the State of Florida due to Covid, our elected officials invested even more in the University of Florida this past year, for which we are incredibly grateful. In the past five years we are the only university in the nation to have increased the size of our faculty by 500, and this past year the Governor and the State Legislature invested additional funding in UF to further increase the size of the faculty, particularly in the area of artificial intelligence. Although no new funds were provided for salary increases, the provost, vice presidents, and deans reallocated funds from existing budgets to provide compensation increases for both faculty and staff this year.
To give you a sense of scale, when thinking of adding 500 faculty…FSU has a total instructional faculty count of 1,912, UCF (with 70K students) has 2,159 and UF has 3,354 (per CDS info).
UF continues it’s massive physical growth (got to put all of those new faculty members somewhere…).
On our 2,000 acre main campus here in Gainesville, we have more than 1 million square feet currently in construction or authorized for construction this academic year. An additional 300,000 square feet is in renovation or authorized for renovation this year.
This past fiscal year’s record in new gifts and commitments was $562M. It was the third year in a row that fundraising topped $500M. This is really remarkable, considering that 2014 was the first year that we raised over $300M annually.
New Freshman Class
In this first week of classes, I want to welcome all our new students, including new undergraduates, graduate, and professional students. The new first year in college undergraduates were selected from a record 52,513 applications. For context, for the fall entering class of 2017, four years ago, we had 34,500 applications.
Our entering students also set a record academically. The average GPA and SAT for admitted students was 4.51 and 1392 respectively, both of which are all-time highs.
All of the above gives you some insight into why UF is moving up in the rankings. In September we’ll learn if UF can break into the US News top 5 of Public Universities (by tying or passing UNC).