President Genshaft does not like to be in the limelight. This has been painfully obvious during the past 14 months as she has dodged probing questions about Sami Al-Arian, university spending and, now, the pending deadline for the end of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
This agreement effectively serves as the faculty’s contract, without which the faculty has no protection from wrongful dismissal, among other things. And once again, Genshaft has pleaded the Fifth, not only staying on the fence, but being invisible, as well.
The two vocal gentlemen on this issue are Dick Beard, chairman for the Board of Trustees, and Roy Weatherford, president of USF’s faculty union. Beard, a real estate agent, has given lackluster amounts of concern to the expiration of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. He and the other members of the BOT, all big-business-minded, believe that the end of collective bargaining and the implementation of 90-day emergency rules are nothing to be concerned about.
Weatherford, on the other hand, has been quite adamant in predicting the downward spiral he thinks the university will find itself in once collective bargaining is gone. Weatherford has asked Genshaft for help. He seems to think that she will hold some kind of sway with the Board of Trustees, the soon-to-be established Board of Governors, or maybe even the governor himself.
But Genshaft has made it quite clear that she prefers to stay barricaded in her office. Her comments, while few and far between, are telling. She has stated that the mission of the BOT is not to destroy the rights of the faculty. But she has never implied nor stated that she will protect it either. Protection of the faculty should be the first priority on her to-do list. Oh well, too bad for Weatherford. Oh, and the faculty, too.
The deadline for D-Day is Jan. 7, the day the newly elected state Legislature takes its place in Tallahassee and the day Jeb Bush settles in for another four years of glad-handing and smiling. This is also the day the Board of Governors takes its seat at the head of every public university in Florida. Who are these noble men and women, these champions of academia? More than likely, more businessmen, who so admirably are leading USF … into the toilet.
USF is an academic institution, not a corporation. While Genshaft can be blamed for her weakness, she cannot be blamed for the whole situation. So who can? Bush. The Bushes come from a long line of Texas businessmen, and he, along with other Republicans he’s appointed, seem to think that what’s best for business is best for the world of academia. They are wrong. Let’s hope that they and the rest of the state figure it out sooner rather than after Jan. 7.