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UWF Faculty Senate: Stop Building Football Facilities

Credit Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media
UWF Faculty Senate in session on Feb. 13, 2015

The University of West Florida’s Faculty Senate met in regular session Friday. High on the agenda were questions about Phase-I of the University Park Project dealing with facilities for the new football program.

With only one dissenting vote, the Senate passed a resolution to halt construction of the athletic training facility and football training field, for at least 18 months. Leading the charge was Doug Waggle – who represents the Department of Accounting and Finance.

“If I heard everything correctly, the main thing that we’re concerned with is the expensive building,” said Waggle. “And it sounded like Dr. Bense said that progress on the building will be stopped until we have more information.”

Waggle and the rest of the Senate heard correctly. Appearing before the body, President Judy Bense confirmed that the University Park project involving the structures has been placed on hold after a budget re-assessment. They are moving forward with site work for the football practice field.

“We will build the university athletic center when we have a good, solid budget, and not a minute before,” Bense said. “I will never put this university in jeopardy – ever.”

The original project carried a $15 million price tag; construction of the practice field is set at around $3 million. The Senate’s resolution came just a few days after a memo questioned the project.

The delays also follow in the wake of a recent announcement, that two major development projects by Business Enterprises Incorporated – UWF’s business arm. Gone are a planned retirement community and a fleet of electric vehicles for getting around campus.

Despite the setback, Bense told the panel that “new ways and new things” for UWF will continue to be explored, and that she’s open to new ideas.

“Because I know that enrollment is dropping; I know there’s a cap on tuition,” said Bense. “I know they’re going after fees. I know our revenue is going to be reduced. We have got to find another way, and I ask for your help as senators.”

“I think what was said was very nebulous,” said Sen. Marie-Therese Champaign. “A delay can mean a delay of a week, it can be a delay of a year. What the resolution our committee came forward with was to stop – to halt the project. That’s different from delay.”

Bense’s 15-minutes of remarks appeared to have raised more questions among senators than provided answers. The UWF Faculty Senate issued a no-confidence resolution against President Judy Bense last September, and there’s one more still to be addressed. This resolution asks the Board of Trustees not to renew Bense’s contract when it expires on June 30.

A vote on that is expected to come after the entire faculty is surveyed.