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University trustees tackled UCF’s total operating budget at Monday’s meeting, as well as President Hitt’s salary and playing host to next year’s Florida Cup.

University budget sees increase

The overall budget saw an $84 million increase, bringing the total to $1.5 billion. The approved budget inlcuded a significant increase in funding to student activities, which is the part of the budget that provides funds to Student Government Association.

The student activities budget, now at $23.7 million, comes from the student activity and service fee that is paid by students. The money is used to support the student government. It funds student clubs and organizations, the Recreation and Wellness Center and the Student Union.

The concessions budget, which comes from vending machine revenue, also saw an increase, from $500,000 to $750,000. UCF’s medical school in Lake Nona received a slightly larger budget, inflating from $40.8 million to $41.6 million.

An increased budget is in part related to the projected student population, which is expected to grow to 68,000 by fall 2019 — a sizable jump from the current 63,000. That means that the board has to figure out how to provide services for an increased number of students without significantly raising tuition. This will be explored at future board meetings.

Campus stadium could host Florida Cup

On Monday, the board also approved a potential plan to use the Bright House Networks Stadium as a venue to host the 2017 Florida Cup in mid-January.

Hosting the event could potentially give UCF a very significant revenue opportunity, said Athletics Director Danny White, because Bright House Networks Stadium is only utilized about six times a year during football season.

White also noted that Bright House Networks Stadium was requested because “UCF has a large-sized venue in a great market.” The stadium also has the best grass surface in Central Florida, which is key for a soccer tournament.

“The most successful version of this would be that we could have some of the world’s best soccer players right here on UCF campus,” White said.

He claimed that hosting the cup could benefit both the men’s and women’s soccer teams at UCF because they could see professionals in action.

After being approved by the board, there are still steps that need to be taken in order to ensure that the event will happen at UCF. The final deal is still being negotiated.

Hitt’s contract renewed

The Board unanimously voted to renew Hitt’s $505,730 contract as president of the university. Hitt has consistently ranked among the top-paid public university presidents. His salary in 2014, which amounted to $631,898, was ranked 23rd among public university presidents, and in 2011, his salary ranked No. 9 in the nation.

Hitt has been president of UCF since 1992 and is credited with turning UCF into the university that it is today. Under Hitt’s leadership, UCF enrollment has tripled, and the school has become the second-largest public university in the nation, according to UCF Today. He increased research funding from $28.4 million dollars to more than $100 million annually for the past 10 years he has been president.

Although his pay has been frozen, Hitt will be eligible to receive performance-based bonuses if UCF meets certain goals. Hitt also gets to live on campus at the Burnett House and will receive a new car every three years.

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Jillian James is the Opinions Editor of the Central Florida Future. She can be reached at jillianj@centralfloridafuture.com

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