President Judy Genshaft gave her State of the University address last week, announcing to the world of academia how USF has fared in the past year and its future initiatives. While Genshaft cited issues such as increases in faculty salaries and increased campus safety, one item was decidedly absent from her list. Genshaft made no mention of Dr. Sami Al-Arian or the issues surrounding him, even though this would have been the perfect opportunity to do so.
It is important to bring issues to light that have already garnered national and international attention so that all the facts floating around are correct. Not mentioning Al-Arian seems another hint that Genshaft would just as soon forget he exists. The state of USF has been irrevocably effected by Al-Arian, and he cannot be excluded from a speech intended to comment on the university.
It has been evident for more than nine months now that Genshaft does not wish to have anything to do with the Al-Arian case. Genshaft has shown an unwillingness to confront this issue, as was evidenced last month by her decision to send the matter to a third party judge.
As president of USF, Genshaft has a responsibility to the faculty, students and staff. Part of that responsibility, in fact over 50 percent of it, is to be accountable and available for questioning on any matter regarding the school. Genshaft may not want to talk about Al-Arian, but it doesn’t matter; it is part of her job.
While Genshaft may feel that the most important responsibility of her office is to turn USF into a premier research facility, the most important part of her job is to make sure USF comes through this current controversy in a favorable light. Mentioning Al-Arian during her address would have been a good start.