Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

UNF Library Plans Could Stall Gov. Bush Earmarks Only Half the Money Needed for Planned Expansion

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

UNF Library Plans Could Stall Gov. Bush Earmarks Only Half the Money Needed for Planned Expansion

Article excerpt

University of North Florida officials fear a plan to double the size of UNF's library might have to be slowed because Gov. Jeb Bush's proposed budget only earmarks half the money they say is needed for the project.

UNF is seeking $16.4 million to expand its library, but Bush penciled in $8.2 million for the library addition, saying the other half would probably be allocated next year. While it is common to fund construction in phases, UNF President Anne Hopkins said she is disappointed in the governor's decision.

She's worried a delay in obtaining the money will cause the project -- which would add 115,000 square feet of space, including 10 classrooms -- to be finished later than the projected completion date of November 2003.

The school's growth makes the library addition an important need and the 10 additional classrooms an even more pressing concern, to university leaders. The library was built in 1980 and is meant to hold 600,000 volumes. The collection now exceeds 730,000 volumes.

"We were disappointed the governor did not support the funding of the second half of the library this year," Hopkins said. "This is a tough budget year with limited funds at the state level."

UNF is the only university recommended to receive less building money than the State University System sought from lawmakers. Florida State University, meanwhile, is basking in a $15 million recommendation that would be put toward its medical school building.

The FSU medical school, which begins classes in May, was contested by regents but approved by lawmakers over their objections. The $15 million was recommended even though regents didn't ask for it. The regents will probably be dissolved by 2002 in a sweeping overhaul of the state's education system.

Officials were not worried that Bush's decision to fund the medical school instead of the library be viewed as a sign of things to come -- the prominent schools gaining favor over smaller, regional colleges.

"I think the whole system realizes we're all going to take a hit for the medical school and the two law schools [at Florida A&M and Florida International universities]," said Kathleen Cohen, assistant director of the library and president of the faculty association. …

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