UCF’s Faculty Union sent out a very critical “open letter” to UCF President John Hitt Friday regarding the pending decision to cut several UCF degree programs and layoff nearly 40 UCF employees.
The full text of union’s letter is copied below. Before the letter, we also included a video message released by President Hitt last month explaining why the budget situation requires degree cuts from his perspective.
KnightNews.com started covering both sides of these controversial cuts on Monday when a faulty and student protest failed to convince a Board of Trustees Committee meeting to halt the pending cuts. We will continue to post both sides’ arguments for you to make up your own mind about the future of UCF.
President John Hitt’s June message explaining pending degree cuts:
United Faculty of Florida’s Open Letter to President Hitt:
An Open Letter to UCF President Hitt
The United Faculty of Florida (UFF) UCF Chapter has tried to have an honest conversation with the Administration and Board of Trustees (BOT) about the financial situation of UCF so we can understand the alleged need to cut academic programs and faculty. During the past year we invited the BOT and the Administration to participate in a public forum to address the financial situation. The BOT’s chief negotiator smiled and responded, “that is not something we are interested in.”
According to the latest audited financial statement for June 30, 2008, there are unrestricted net assets of over $140 million that can be used for any legal purpose. You and/or Provost Hickey have been quoted as saying about these funds “that many of them are restricted and can’t be spent.”
Financial statements and footnotes are usually based on the concept of materiality. I have not found any statements or footnotes that relate to legal restrictions on these assets. If that information is provided in the financial statements, then please identify them. If the restrictions are not in the financial statements, please fully identify all the material legal restrictions that you claim apply to the assets.
The same audited financial information indicates an annual excess cash flow (cash revenues minus cash expenses) of more than $72 million. You and Provost Hickey are quoted as giving information of projected deficits about the next two years. However, as recently as last month we made a public records request for the latest financial information and projected cash flows for UCF for the past fiscal year that was over on June 30, 2009, and the current fiscal year ending on June 30, 2010. Given the proposed layoff decisions, one would expect that this information would be sitting on your desk. The UCF legal counsel responded on June 18, 2009, that after double checking with the Finance department, “the only cash projections we have are those presented as part of the audited financial statements, of which were provided to you last week.”
There appears to be an inconsistency between your public statements and your legal and ethical obligation to provide this information. If you do have the information and will not provide it to the stakeholders when legally requested, then the statement by the UCF legal counsel appears to be a lie and the UCF Administration and BOT cannot be trusted. How can the stakeholders of UCF have a reasonable conversation about financial problems when the BOT and Administration will not provide us the full set of information they are using to assess the problem? It is very difficult to have any confidence in the decisions made by the UCF BOT and Administration when you and they will not be honest and forthcoming about the financial matters of the University.
Stanley Smith, Treasurer, on behalf of the
United Faculty of Florida
UCF Chapter Council
Watch our previous coverage from Monday below: