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February 21, 2003

Contact: Bill Edmonds
Florida Department of Education
(850) 201-7130

Florida universities receive record amount of federal support for research projects

TALLAHASSEE — Education Commissioner Jim Horne announced today that Florida's State University System will receive $122.6 million in federal research funds mandated by Congress, the highest level of congressional support ever for Florida's state universities.

In 2002, the State University System realized about $107 million, and in 2001 about $100 million. With another big increase this year, Florida's 11 public universities have seen a 90 percent increase over the past three years in direct federal congressional appropriations support.

A list of the congressionally supported research projects is attached.

"We are elated with the results of our efforts to demonstrate the talent and expertise we have in our universities," Horne said. "These congressionally mandated projects will help our nation excel in important work in bioterrorism research, medicine, public health, agriculture, transportation, defense and education."

Gov. Jeb Bush thanked members of the congressional delegation and the Department of Education for their efforts. "The increase in federal dollars is an affirmation of the excellent research taking place in our state universities," the governor said. "Through this funding, Florida's brightest minds will have more opportunities to make a difference in the lives of others."

Horne praised the Florida congressional delegation for their bipartisan support of the SUS agenda.

"This was another tough year," said Horne. "With economic setbacks and a need to reorder budget priorities for homeland security, we did not anticipate an increase in federal support. While we know the support of our delegation in Washington is strong, there is no one who has championed our agenda more than Rep. Bill Young, who chairs the House Appropriations Committee."

Tom Petway, chairman of the Florida Board of Governors, the board that guides the state universities, said the federal support will bolster the growing research power of Florida's institutions of higher learning. He praised Chairman Young and members of the Florida delegation for their commitment to university research.

"Make no mistake about it," said Petway. "Bill Young is both architect and construction foreman in building an impressive research house that identifies and funds exemplary projects. Every university in this state knows and appreciates Mr. Young's support for our agenda."

Commissioner Horne also attributed the funding success of Florida's schools to the changes made three years ago in restructuring the State University System's Washington office and instituting system-wide and individual university projects that are prioritized and consolidated.

" We now offer one-stop shopping," Horne said. "Our priorities are crystal clear, and this effort has paid big dividends."

Horne cited congressional mandates for Florida universities in counter-terrorism, hydrogen research, school readiness, math/science/reading, aging research and hurricane mitigation research as examples of how universities working together can get the support they need.

"Three years ago our universities competed with each other for limited resources. Today, through university partnerships, we are showcasing what it is that Florida does best. These funds will help us in our pursuit of important grants at NIH, NSF and the Defense and Homeland Security departments."

Horne noted that, in addition to the multi-university projects, significant funds over the past two years are designated for agriculture research at UF, environmental and energy projects at UWF, FAMU, FGCU, New College and FIU, naval research at FAU and USF, and defense, space and technology projects at FSU, UCF, USF, FAMU, UNF and UF. Medical research is funded at USF and FAU, and UCF and USF share new national center designations for transportation research. UNF is leading work in statewide school readiness implementation.

Horne said he plans to travel to Washington to meet with Chairman Young, the Florida delegation and other key congressional leaders to discuss State University System priorities for next year.

The state's 11 public universities have prepared and submitted to the SUS Washington office innovative and diverse projects that affect national issues and priorities. Horne and the universities are also pushing for 11 system-wide projects that tap expertise throughout the state's family of public universities.

Horne said he is encouraged by the interest of Chairman Young and the Florida delegation to support a rich and diverse research agenda of the highest quality. "We are fully aware of the budget nuances Congress faces," Horne said, "but we remain confident that we will win the support of our delegation to fund exemplary projects."

Information on specific projects is available from the universities involved. For general information, contact Jim Pirius in the State University System's Washington office at (202) 638-2000.