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Genshaft Bonus, Dropped Degrees, Publix Delay on USF Trustees' Slate

Dec 7, 2015

12-7-15 5:00 p.m.  This story has been changed to reflect the correct number of degree programs eliminated by the USF Board of Trustees.

University of South Florida trustees took on a number of issues in their final meeting of 2015 last Thursday, including the dropping of some degree programs, System President Judy Genshaft's bonus, and a delay in the planning process of a campus Publix grocery store.

The Board of Trustees followed the recommendation of its Academics and Campus Environment workgroup to cut three degree programs.

The Bachelor's and Master's degrees in American Studies and the Bachelor's degree in Foreign Language Education Program were all ended. All three programs awarded fewer than 30 degrees over the last five years. Students currently pursuing those degrees will be allowed to complete them.

Speaking shortly after the Board approved the move, Genshaft said that it comes down to how students can benefit once they're done with school.

"I think it's always good to review and renew the kinds of programs that we're offering, make sure that they're relevant, make sure that the students that graduate can get jobs with these degrees and pursue their dreams," she said.

In addition, a new Pd.D. program, "Linguistics and Applied Language Studies," was also created.

A recent review of USF degree programs showed a number of others, both at the Bachelor and Masters levels, were below standard in terms of degrees awarded over the last five years, but were not cut at this time.

Trustees also voted to award Genshaft with a $175,000 stipend, the full bonus she could receive under her contract.

Based upon her review for the 2014-2015 school year, trustees agreed that Genshaft should receive the full performance stipend they're allowed to reward her, $122,500.

The remaining amount - $52,500 - was a discretionary award that's decided by Board Chairman Hal Mullis, who also approved giving Genshaft the full award.

Site plan for Publix to be built on USF Tampa campus.
Credit Fisher Architects / USF Board of Trustees

And trustees were told that they'll have to hold a special meeting in early January to formally approve leasing a piece of property on the Tampa campus to Publix to build a 29-thousand square foot grocery store.

While Chief Operating Officer John Long said this slows the process down slightly, he doesn't think it's going to affect the timetable for construction.

"Publix is a top five national company, they've got a lot of resources," Long said after the meeting. "I'm sure once we get all the approval processes together and we can finalize contracts that, not to speak for them, but they have plenty of resources to mobilize and start the project."

USF would charge Publix $130,000 a year to rent approximately three acres of land for the store and parking lot. Currently, a grass field and portions of the Andros complex parking lot are on that property.

The contract would run for 20 years, with six five-year renewals available for a 50-year total term.

Trustees are expected to approve the lease and send the proposal to the Florida Board of Governors for review at their meeting late next month.

If things go as planned, the store could be open by fall 2017.