Possible CRDF/UF Administrative Split Looms

Ernie Neff CRDF

Larry Black

The University of Florida (UF) indicated its intention to decertify the Citrus Research and Development Foundation (CRDF) as a UF Direct Support Organization (DSO) in September.

CRDF President Larry Black and Chief Operating Officer Rick Dantzler spoke about the potential split during CRDF’s Executive Committee meeting on June 6. Black and Dantzler reported on their attendance at a UF Board of Trustees Governance Committee meeting on June 3.

CRDF was organized as a UF DSO in 2009. In order to remain as such, CRDF reportedly would have to spend all its research funds with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) and have all its research funding approved by UF. Black and other board members are opposed to those measures, even though the majority of CRDF’s research funding already goes to UF/IFAS.

“What makes CRDF great is it’s grower driven,” Black says. “We don’t want a separation from the university, but autonomy is essential to deliver solutions quicker to the industry.”

The language governing UF DSOs was in place when the CRDF was formed in 2009, but UF has apparently only recently begun demanding its scientists receive all research funding and that UF have final say on funding.

“The state statute can be interpreted several different ways,” Black says. “It’s unfortunate this strict interpretation has come down the pike, but we’ll work through it.”

The CRDF Executive Committee agreed that Dantzler should look into other operating options for CRDF, in case things can’t be worked out with UF. Operating as a DSO under the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services or the Florida Department of Citrus are among the possibilities.

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Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large