The University of Florida has embarked on a new initiative to achieve status as a top 10 public university. In April, Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed into law the Preeminence Bill, which designates UF as a preeminent university in the state and provides $15 million per year for five years to help us reach our goal of top 10 status. UF plans to match that amount through the UF Preeminence fundraising campaign.
The university received more good news in September when the 2014 U.S. News and World Report rankings of best colleges placed UF 14th among public universities, up three spots from the previous year. UF made gains in graduation and retention, expected graduation, selectivity, alumni giving and faculty resources.
The College of Public Health and Health Professions has long been considered one of the top schools for health professions disciplines, regularly ranking within the top three in research funding among peer colleges, and 19th among accredited colleges of public health for National Institutes of Health research grants. With impressive growth in our research enterprise, online education offerings and new doctoral programs, the college has shown a steady trajectory toward becoming one of the top colleges among our peers. Our research and education productivity makes us one of the leading colleges at UF, and our contributions will help the university in its efforts to climb into the top 10.
To join the ranks of the nation’s top research universities, UF must invest in faculty and students. With state and donor support, UF will create new endowed professorships to attract faculty members who are leaders in their fields. Our college will recruit researchers in six target areas that are expected to have special potential for UF: neuroscience and the brain; clinical informatics; metabolomics (the study of chemical fingerprints that cellular processes leave behind); early childhood development; One Health; and food safety and security.
We intend to hire faculty members who are recognized by their peers for conducting studies that are of true significance and are likely to have an impact on the future of research in their fields. Because there is a strong correlation between a university’s ranking and the amount of National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation research funding it receives, we will also focus on recruiting faculty members who have a proven ability to earn grants from those funding sources.
The expertise of these new faculty hires will complement our existing faculty resources and create new synergies. The results will extend beyond research to teaching, with new knowledge that will be transmitted to students in the classroom and new opportunities for graduate student and postdoctoral training. The UF Preeminence initiative doesn’t just benefit the University of Florida and its standing in national rankings. When we invest this way in research and education, the whole state and the nation benefit from discoveries that will improve health care, prevent disease and promote public health.