Originally published on November 21st by UF News
MIAMI, Fla. – The Florida Board of Governors gave the University of Florida approval today to go on a hiring spree for faculty all-stars who can help the school achieve recognition as one of the nation’s top-ranked public research universities.
The UF Preeminence Plan calls for spending $15 million in funding from the Legislature on new talent in life sciences, massive data, cybersecurity, Latin American development and other fields where a few more top minds can advance UF’s standing as a national leader.
The state funding complements a drive by the University of Florida Foundation, UF’s private fundraising arm, to raise as much as $800 million to assemble the faculty, students, buildings and academic initiatives necessary to improve on the measures of success used by so many ranking systems.
“It’s not the rankings themselves that matter. But a rising reputation builds momentum that allows us to make ever greater contributions,” UF President Bernie Machen said. “Preeminence means UF can make more life-changing discoveries, create jobs through our startup companies and technology licensing, compete to get Florida its share of federal research dollars, and ensure that Floridians do not have to leave the state to get a world-class education.”
The university will match the state’s five-year, $15 million annual investment in as many as 100 faculty hires. The Foundation recently launched a three-year drive to raise the private money to fund 107 endowed faculty positions, facilities that include new chemistry and medical education buildings, scholarships, and new teaching approaches such as infusing the engineering curriculum with instruction in entrepreneurship.
UF already hires hundreds of faculty annually to fill vacancies created by attrition. The preeminence hires will be new positions. UF aims to recruit accomplished, mostly tenured faculty. It plans to surround them with other talented newcomers, thrust them into high-profile, university-backed research initiatives and provide them with the kind of graduate assistant and laboratory support that endowed professorships can provide.
“This is about scouring the free-agent market for the best available proven talent. We’re looking for immediate results,” said UF Provost Joseph Glover, who recently selected 16 interdisciplinary initiatives where the bulk of the hiring will be focused.
UF was awarded the $15 million by earning top ranking on the Legislature’s criteria for designating a preeminent state university. The same legislation tapped UF to take the lead in online education by developing the state university system’s first fully online four-year bachelor’s degree programs. The state will provide a total of $35 million over the next five years for UF Online, which is scheduled to start classes in January.
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