President’s Message — January 29, 2009

Dear members of the university community:

This week I want to share with you the highlights of a budget overview Provost Ronald Berkman presented to members of the FIU Foundation Board of Directors and the Faculty Senate on Tuesday. As you will see, the numbers indicate a trend that will present significant challenges for FIU and other public universities across the United States.

In 2006, before this wave of budget cuts arrived, the Florida Legislature allocated approximately $229 million in recurring general revenue funds for FIU. As the cuts unfolded over 18 months, our budget continued to shrink to the point that we expect to end this fiscal year having received $205 million from the state – a $24 million loss.

As you know, our budget strategy calls for multi-year planning, so we must constantly look ahead. Our budget strategy, which was initially a three-year plan, has now moved to a five-year cycle. Our projections indicate that by fiscal year 2011-12 our state allocation could be considerably lower.

This significant shift calls for a change in strategy: we either fill the void or change the way we operate in order to stay within the constraints dictated by the budget.

At FIU it behooves us to look intensely for other sources of funding. Sponsored research and private fundraising will now play an even greater and more central role in our success. And that success will only be realized when we succeed in modifying our own internal culture to one that looks to secure funding in new, aggressive ways.

I know that many promising new initiatives are underway around the university. For example, Luis Salas in Criminal Justice has received an additional $2.9 million this fiscal year to continue work on his project “Colombia Justice Reform and Modernization Program.” Professor Salas has an additional proposal for $3.7 million pending on this grant. In the School of Computing and Information Sciences, Dean Yi Deng recently received $1.8 million for the second, five-year phase of his National Science Foundation grant “CREST: Center for Innovative Information Systems Engineering,” a multidisciplinary initiative that involves research as well as student training.

At the same time, we are keeping a close eye on developments in Washington, D.C., with regard to the American Reinvestment and Recovery plan, a proposal supported by President Barack Obama that includes spending for infrastructure improvements, health and human services, unemployment benefits, investments in renewable energy and tax cuts. It is expected that if the plan is adopted, a proportional share of the economic stimulus money could be headed to Florida.

As always, our approach continues to be multi-pronged and aggressive. I believe we have in place the best possible budget plan, which was designed specifically for FIU by a talented, dedicated team with all the tools to see it through with minimal damage to the institution and the quality of the education we deliver.

Challenges of the day dictate that we must make significant changes. I remain confident, however, that these changes will allow us to emerge a stronger, more focused university that will continue to serve as a beacon of hope in our community and beyond.

I look forward to an on-going conversation with you as to how we augment our efforts to attract private and public funds and continue to pursue all avenues to bring in state and federal dollars. We must also continue to find ways to save money. The 10-hour, four-day week and the extended holiday break are two initiatives that worked well toward that end. This year we will need to experiment with others. Please email me your thoughts at

Modesto A. Maidique


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