The University of North Florida (UNF) announced its week that the UNF community has already committed almost $700,000 in direct funds for the University’s Student Emergency Relief Fund and scholarships to assist students facing financial hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The UNF community has come together in unprecedented ways to assist our students during this challenging time,” said UNF President David Szymanski on Tuesday. “Executive leadership, faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends all uniting is what makes UNF such a unique and special place.”
The UNF Student Emergency Relief Fund was created back in mid-March to provide immediate financial assistance to students dealing with unfortunate housing situations, food insecurity, employment issues and other personal challenges during the COVID-19 crisis. To date, more than $420,000 has already been contributed to relief funding, including commitments from every UNF vice president, the deans of each college, a dozen members of the University’s Board of Trustees, the UNF Foundation, the UNF Student Government and the University Police Department.
Szymanski also recently announced that he will be taking a 15 percent salary reduction for the remainder of this fiscal year and his office’s operating budget will be reduced by 65 percent next fiscal year to fund more than $250,000 in new scholarships and need-based aid.
“The pledge of financial support by so many members of our University community is a true testament to the heart of UNF,” said Szymanski. “The coronavirus pandemic is having a devasting economic impact on many of our students and these funds and scholarships will provide the critical financial support to those who need it most.”
“Recognizing that this is a very challenging time for many, we are so appreciative of President Szymanski’s leadership in spearheading this effort and the participation of my fellow board members to secure the most funding and financial assistance possible to help UNF students,” said Kevin Hyde, the chairman of the UNF Board of Trustees.
In addition to the dollars raised so far, UNF Foundation Board members Drs. Anne and Robert Lufrano have offered to match up to $50,000 in total for future gifts to the Student Emergency Relief Fund.
“I am so proud to see our community come together to rally for our students and so thankful to gracious donors like the Lufranos,” said Ann McCullen, UNF’s vice president for university development and alumni engagement. “Every gift provides the University with the means to assist more students and make a difference in their lives.”