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USF Trustees Focus on Legislators' Questions, Genshaft Contract Renewal, Chancellor Vacancy

Mar 10, 2017

While the University of South Florida Board of Trustees had a full agenda for Thursday's meeting, two outside events Wednesday ended up as topics of concern.

During a Florida House Appropriations Committee meeting Wednesday, officials from the 12 members of the State University System were asked pointed questions about their spending habits.

Of particular interest to lawmakers were university foundations: private groups that raise money for student scholarships, as well as supplementing some faculty and staff salaries.

However, foundations are partially funded by taxpayer money, and lawmakers characterized some officials' paychecks as too high. Among those singled out was USF Foundation CEO Joel Momberg's annual salary of $532,250.

Foundations like USF's also raise funds for student scholarships and to supplement other employees' salaries, particularly deans, university presidents and athletic coaches.

After Thursday's trustees meeting, USF Board Chair Brian Lamb responded to the concerns, saying the Foundation is an important strategic arm of the university.

"We're ready to respond to those questions as they come up, we think we're running a very strong Foundation right now," Lamb said. "As you look at investing in faculty, creating scholarships, finding ways to advance the mission of the institution, you've got to have a very successful Foundation, so we're going to continue to find ways to put great leadership in place there."

After almost a decade of fund-raising, the USF Foundation's Unstoppable campaign is nearing its goal of $1 billion.

Earlier during the Trustees' meeting, the board unanimously voted to offer System President Judy Genshaft a one-year contract renewal with a raise. The deal would bump Genshaft's base pay up by 2.5 percent to $505,837. It would also raise her performance bonus by $25,000 to a maximum of $300,000.

With other benefits factored in, the total compensation amount could be as high as $924,000.

Lamb said the deal is a recognition of Genshaft's performance.

"Not only over the last 12 months, but over the last 17 years," Lamb said. "And it's equally as important that we have any contract, any compensation, be aligned with the market and be aligned with the role and the capacity of the individual and our Board obviously feels strongly that the contract we put in place does that."

"I just thank everybody for all the work that we do together to move the University of South Florida System to the next level," Genshaft said. "To the team that's not only in this room, but throughout the system, thank you very, very much."

Florida law prohibits state universities from offering presidents contracts longer than one year. While the three contracts before the 2016-17 one were multi-year deals, Genshaft is comfortable working on an annual basis.

"I was hired on a one-year contract (in 2000)," Genshaft said. "So I can say been there, done that, and I'm very privileged to continue to do so, hopefully for many more years." 

During the meeting, Genshaft also gave more information about the upcoming national search for a replacement for USF Sarasota-Manatee Regional Chancellor Sandra Stone.

Stone announced her resignation in a letter to the university community Wednesday. She cited a family situation as the reason for her decision.

Genshaft said Donna Petersen, a Senior Associate Vice President for USF Health, will lead the search committee.

"We won't lose any momentum," Lamb said. "Most importantly for the students, the faculty and that community, we will not lose momentum or our renewed focus on investing in the Sarasota-Manatee campus."

Stone will return to USFSM at the beginning of next academic year as a faculty member.

"I think we'll see what plays out over the next 60 to 90 days, as the board chair for that campus, trustee Byron Shinn and President Genshaft work together on a longer term strategic decision for that particular campus and its leadership," Lamb added.

Regional Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs Terry Osborn will serve as interim Regional Chancellor. Osborn previously held the position on an interim basis during the search that brought Stone to USF Sarasota-Manatee.