The University of South Florida once again finished near the top of the State University System's performance-based rankings, and USF President Judy Genshaft's contract extension has been approved by state officials.
Those were two items that came out of the Florida Board of Governors' meeting held at the University of West Florida in Pensacola Wednesday and Thursday.
USF came in fourth among the 11 state public universities rated according to a variety of metrics, including graduation rates, students graduating in six years or less and post-graduate productivity. The newest school in the State University System, Florida Polytechnic University, does not yet participate in the rankings.
Schools are rated in 10 different categories on a 10 point system, with the highest possible total being 100.
Scores then determine how much schools receive from a fund that both the state and the universities contribute to.
This year the fund is worth half a billion dollars - $275 million from the schools, $225 million from the state.
USF Assistant Vice President for Government Relations Mark Walsh says his school has put some of its post award money into general funds. Some of it goes into hiring new faculty and advisors, and some helps students find jobs after graduation.
"I think it's probably pretty likely that you'll see similar types of investments out of this year's money, but we evaluate on a year-by-year basis and determine what's the best use of funds for the students and to help draw down additional funds in the future from this performance-based pot," Walsh said.
The University of Central Florida and Florida Atlantic University tied for first this year with 84 points each, the University of Florida was third with 82, and USF came in fourth.
It's USF's lowest finish in the four years the rankings have been released. They were tied for first in 2013-14, and second in both 2014-15 and 2015-16.
USF picked up "10's" in four categories: bachelor's degrees awarded in areas of strategic emphasis, graduate degrees awarded in areas of strategic emphasis, percentage of undergraduates with Pell Grants, and number of postdoctoral appointees.
The Board of Governors will announce how much money each university will get later this year.
The Governors also unanimously approved USF System President Judy Genshaft's contract renewal Thursday.
The one-year deal raises Genshaft's base salary by five percent to $493,500. Her pay could grow to as much as $768,500 if she meets certain performance goals.
Shortly before the approval, USF Board of Trustees Chairman Hal Mullis told the Governors that even though the USF System has grown in size and reputation during Genshaft's 15 year tenure, there's still room for improvement.
"The System is not today what she intends it to be. She is fully committed to the work necessary to continue the development of the System, and to elevate USF Tampa to preeminent status and to AAU (Association of American Universities) membership," Mullis said.
The AAU is a collection of 62 leading U.S. and Canadian research universities. Membership has been a longtime goal for Genshaft and other USF officials.
"It's really a privilege and my passion to lead such a great system and such a great institution," Genshaft said Thursday. "We've only just begun, so it's very exciting."
Genshaft's three previous contracts with USF were for five years each. New regulations from the Board of Governors limits the reappointment term of current school presidents to just one year.