North-South Center could lose out on $2 million in federal funds
By Leslie Kraft
As much as $2 million in federal funding for the Dante B. Fascell North-South Center is in danger of being lost because of the University of Miami's decision to restructure the center.
Paul Anderson, an aide to US Sen. Bob Graham, said the Senate Appropriations Committee has approved a bill, drafted before the announcement to restructure the center, that contained $2 million for the center for next year.
The bill will next go to the full Senate and then to the Senate-House Conference Committee for final approval. Mr. Anderson said the allocation "will now be questioned, given what has been announced."
UM officials said last month that they would restructure the think tank and lay off 12 of its 13 staff by Dec. 31, raising questions about the future of the prestigious public-policy and research center created in 1984.
"It will be difficult to defend the expenditure, given the level of restructuring," Mr. Anderson said.
If the funding is lost, US interests pursuing a good relationship with Latin America will suffer along with the Miami community, said Ambler Moss, director of the North-South Center and a former US ambassador to Panama.
"Miami has been in the forefront of this effort and could risk losing some ground," he said.
The University of Miami won't pursue the funds, said Jerry Lewis, vice president of communications. "There is never any guarantee that the federal funding is coming, which has been a problem for us in the past," he said.
UM Provost Luis Glaser, who has said the announcement does not signal the end of the center, said the decision to change it and cut staff was made because of a significant reduction in federal support for several years. This year, the center applied for $2 million but received just $500,000 from the government. The center received $10 million in 1991 and asked for a little more than $1 million for next year.
Mr. Anderson said the language in the bill does not refer to the University of Miami. "The money is for the Dante B. Fascell North-South Center specifically," he said.
Florida International University has indicated interest in taking over the center, which is considered part of UM but not affiliated with any department at the university.
UM is committed to keeping the center, Mr. Lewis said.
The center analyzes global and regional issues affecting the Western Hemisphere - such as trade, economics, the environment, migration and security. It sponsors conferences and provides experts who serve on educational forums and panels and provides commentary on the region.