Outraged students took to the microphone at UCF’s open forum on Tuesday to display the growing gap between the student body and the officials in charge of the school.
In the wake of a 15% tuition hike earlier this year, students argue against the necessity of a salary increase for UCF President John C. Hitt. Reports put President Hitt at 9th among highest paid university presidents in the nation. A vote to increase his salary would likely give his base pay an extra $26,000 annually. Hitt also reportedly enjoys other incentives included in his total compensation package.
President Hitt did not answer questions regarding UCF’s plans to give him a raise at the open forum, but Vice President Bill Merck stated that President Hitt deserves the salary increase because of his great efforts at UCF.
“You’ve got one of the top presidents in the country here at UCF, Dr. Hitt, I’ve not seen anybody that’s done a better job for their university than he has,” said Merck.
Merck also discussed the need for a tuition hike amid budget cuts, essentially concluding that in order to sustain quality education among state budget reductions, tuition needs to be increased.
“You come here for a quality experience, we want to make sure you get it; we cant do it without raising tuition if the state continues to decrease the funding,” Merck said.
SGA President Cortez Whatley serves on the UCF Board of Trustees and will be one of the voting members on President Hitt’s salary increase at the upcoming meeting.
Curtis Hierro, a graduate student at UCF, went to the forum to discuss his disdain for what he considers the lack of true representation of the student body by school leaders. He also believes Whatley should vote against the salary increase, especially after having voted to raise student tuition only the maximum 15% possible.
“If he is going to sit there and vote to increase President Hitt’s salary that would be a slap in the face to the entire student body,” he says.
Florida Governor Rick Scott is scheduled to meet Wednesday, November 7, in Sarasota with the Florida Board of Governors who oversee Florida universities to discuss his stance against tuition hikes.
We will have more on this meeting later this week. Continue to check back for updates.