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President Sasse announces strategic funding awardees

Programs focus on student experience, interdisciplinary scholarship

An expansion of outdoor wireless connectivity on campus, a program using augmented reality for certifying new teachers, a neurotechnology lab, astrobiology experiments, and a “Gulf Scholars” program are among 19 new projects receiving strategic funding through a program aimed at advancing the student experience and interdisciplinary scholarship at the University of Florida, UF President Ben Sasse announced today.

“When we asked campus leadership to come up with their best ideas for how to use this money, they jumped in with both feet,” Sasse said. “These round-one proposals can do some incredible things. I’m excited to hear from these units as they roll up their sleeves and get moving. This was the first round of our strategic funding process, and I’m tremendously proud of how UF is putting these dollars to work. These are wins for our students, for our faculty, and for our state. The University of Florida is moving forward.”

After UF received $130 million in new funding from the State Legislature this year, Sasse established that, for the first time, more than half of the new funding must be demonstrably used for strategic purposes. $24 million has been delivered to deans directly to report back on their strategic uses of funds, and another $50 million will be made available across all the University of Florida’s colleges and administrative units to submit proposals for how the money can be best spent. Today, the first round awarded $9.2 million to projects across UF.

The university received 163 submissions. The first round of awardees will receive funding immediately. A second group of submissions has been identified as potentially worthy of funding but requiring more study and will receive a preliminary feasibility study. A third group of proposals is being deferred until the second round of awardees is announced in November.

Winning proposals were selected based on their impact to student experience and research productivity. They require one-time, short-term investment – roughly one year. Awarded proposals are also high priority as ranked by the requesting college or unit and impact a broad set of colleges or units. All colleges will participate in a strategic funding investment.

The first-round winners are:

  • Student Life: Comprehensive Student Housing Market Study, $200,000 – To support UF’s prioritization of on-campus student housing, Student Life will conduct a market study of UF’s on- and off-campus housing inventory.
  • UF Information Technology: Outdoor Wireless Expansion, $1 million – The project will improve student wireless connectivity throughout campus.
  • Health Affairs: Florida’s Digital Twin, $1.75 million– Design and construction of a statewide digital twin technology program to reduce barriers to cross-campus collaboration and engagement between UF faculty and researchers and public- and private-sector stakeholder.
  • College of Education: UF Promoting Interdisciplinary Use of Neurotechnologies to Enhance Education, Research, and Service (PIONEERS), $113,754 – Partnering with UF’s Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering and UF Design, Construction and Planning, the College of education aims to purchase and deploy a neurotechnology lab that transforms educational research and practice.
  • College of Journalism and Communication: News/Immersion Expansion, $300,000 over three years – The proposal aims to expand student journalism coverage of the environment and small business and natural disasters and emergencies.
  • College of Public Health and Health Professions: Agriculture and landscape worker health and safety, $750,000 over three years – Creation of resources that prevent injuries associated with agricultural and landscape jobs across the state of Florida.
  • College of Liberal Arts and Sciences: UF and the Gulf, $413,834 over four years – Creation of a “Gulf Scholars” program in the Bob Graham Center for Public Service with partners in the College of the Arts, Design, Construction and Planning, the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Engineering, and Journalism and Communications. The program will promote interdisciplinary research and experiential learning focused on the challenges facing communities along the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Levin College of Law: Degree revamp and expansion, $600,000 over three years – Revamp and expand program to award a Master of Law in U.S. Law, develop master’s programs in Legal Studies.
  • College of Pharmacy: In-Space Biomanufacturing for Human Health Innovation Hub, $1.5 million over three years – Conduct astrobiology experiments in space and on the ground to reveal the significant effects of low-gravity on biological systems.
  • Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences: The IFAS Plant Transformation Center, $2 million over two years – The program aims to facilitate the rapid development and commercialization of genetically improved crops.
  • Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences: Connect Students with Cultivated and Natural Spaces to Promote Wellness, $474,604 over three years – Builds on the success of horticultural therapy programs to decrease stress and mental fatigue and improve the self-esteem of UF students.
  • College of Dentistry: Virtual Patient Simulation and AI-Enabled Learning to Support Interprofessional Collaboration, $162,630 over two years.
  • Warrington College of Business: Experiential Leaning Platform, $600,000 over three years – Differentiation of undergraduate, MBA and MS programs through experiential and practicum programs where student work on projects with partner companies and non-profit organizations.
  • Warrington College of Business: FinTech Research Center, $600,000 over three years – Funding would support operations for fintech research centers in Jacksonville, Tampa and South Florida.
  • College of Education: Project ECHO – Revolutionizing Teacher Preparation with Augmented Reality, $467,947 – Incorporating augmented reality technologies into an online early childhood education teacher certification program.
  • Herbert Wertheim College of engineering: Charting the Course to Preeminence in National Security Leadership, $316,000 – Partnering with the Office of Government and Community Relations and the Hamilton Center, the college aims to accelerate the long-term positioning of UF as a trusted partner for research, policymaking and workforce development with federal agencies responsible for national security and defense.
  • College of Health and Human Performance: Sport and Health Leaders, $105,356 over two years – In partnership with the University Athletic Association, the college will co-develop a new educational certificate focused on athlete development covering personal and family health, athlete health and well-being, athlete career management, and worksite and health promotion.
  • College of Medicine: AI Passport for Health, $550,000 – A Virtual Experiential Learning Community enabling professionals in biomedical and healthcare sciences to acquire the skills needed to integrate artificial intelligence into their practices and research.
  • College of Veterinary Medicine: MRI Vault, $624,679 – Design and construction of a vault to accommodate new MRI equipment acquired through a $3 million gift from the Gauntt Foundation.

About the University of Florida
The University of Florida attracts the best and brightest students, staff and faculty, places them together and connects them with world-class resources to spark extraordinary discoveries and innovations. UF’s momentum is reflected in the university’s designation as a No. 1 public university in the country by the Wall Street Journal. Artificial intelligence is a centerpiece at UF, spanning all disciplines so that every student has the opportunity to acquire competence and expertise in AI. The University of Florida is a place where limitless potential meets boundless opportunity through teaching, research, scholarship and service to the state, the nation and the world.

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