FIU thaws year-old hiring, purchasing freezes
By Paola Iuspa
An increase in state funds and a hike in credit fees are allowing Florida International University to relax a year-old hiring freeze and purchasing restrictions.
Chuck Tinder, FIU assistant vice president of budget & planning, said FIU is free to start filling vacant positions, pay faculty travel expenses, buy books for the library and purchase computers.
During the hiring freeze, he said, some critical positions were filled. For example, the Graduate School of Business hired a dean.
"While we did not encourage hiring, we had to do some hiring to continue teaching classes," said Judith Blucker, FIU executive vice provost for the academic budget & personnel.
The State of Florida allocated about $13 million for FIU's 2002-03 budget after the school lost $11 million through state cuts during the 2001-02 fiscal year, which ended June 30, Ms. Blucker said.
The operating budget this year jumped to $244 million from last year's reduced $208 million budget, Mr. Tinder said.
The university's operating budget last year was made up of $139 million from state general revenue funds, $10 million from the Florida Lottery and $68 million from student fees, he said.
A raise in college credit fees starting this fall will also boost revenues, Mr. Tinder said. With undergraduate fees going up 5%, graduate fees jumping 10% and international student fees increasing 22%, university officials project to collect $6 million more, compared to last year.
The state's new allocation includes more than $2 million to pay for a legislature-approved salary increase for faculty and staff, which total about 3,000 full-time, and $2 million for the newly created school of law, Ms. Blucker said.
While FIU is getting $13 million back, she said, not much of that will go back to the areas from which the $11 million was taken. She said some of FIU's 70 centers and institutions, such as the Institute for Asian Studies or Center for Aging, saw up to a 25% reduction in funds in '02 and have hardly received back any funds. She said support services such as the library, labs and computer services saw an 8% cut last year. Teaching and research was the least affected with a 4% cut.
FIU administrators, Ms. Blucker said, have plans to hire soon because the number of registered students has increased.