Florida doesn't match private funds as expected, lawsuit alleges
- The state of Florida has not matched $1 billion in private donations made to its colleges and universities as it was legally obligated to do, according to a new lawsuit brought by two recent graduates of the University of Florida, and the Tallahassee Democrat reports the students hope to legally force the state to keep its end of the bargain.
- Alexis S. Geffen and her brother Ryan filed the suit, and their attorney notes that the matching of private donations was delayed because of the Great Recession, but the state has not revived the process despite the fact that the economy recovered, claiming the Florida Department of Education stopped asking for the funding.
- The attorney alleges that lack of matching funds is inhibiting the funding for facility improvements, financial aid and academic scholarships, with the University of Florida said to be owed the most of the state’s colleges and universities at more than $155 million.
Though the state of Florida has allegedly refused to pay the share it promised it would to certain public colleges and universities, school leaders should consider advocating for state governments to consider matching funds in the aftermath of funding cuts for public institutions. If state governments agreed to matching funds, savvy school leaders with fundraising skills could bring higher levels of funding into the school with high amounts of private dollars.
The reliance on private philanthropy underscores the shifting role college presidents see for themselves, particularly when it comes to presidents near the start of their tenure. A recent investigation found that college presidents, particularly new hires, tend to see their roles as more financial or operational in nature than presidents who have held the position for longer periods of time, who saw themselves as academic leaders. With college presidents benefiting from shorter time spans of support from school boards, and schools increasingly chasing private funds in lieu of state budget shortfalls, academic figures on campus interested in pursuing a pathway towards a college presidency must begin gaining experience in fundraising as soon as possible. The trend toward fundraising acumen is unlikely to abate.
- The Tallahassee Democrat Billion dollar lawsuit claims state broke higher education promises