Genshaft receives big contract over break

It could be another year before USF President Judy Genshaft receives another bonus, but her first raise put her earnings well ahead of Vice President Dick Cheney’s salary.

The USF Board of Trustees approved a five-year $1.6-million contract for Genshaft Dec. 18, which gives her a $325,000 annual base salary.

The increase makes Genshaft the second highest paid university president in the state, just behind the University of Florida’s president, who earned almost $340,000 last year, and is substantially more than Cheney’s $186,300 annual salary.

Genshaft’s salary and renewal package, which includes travel expenses for her husband, are still receiving criticism from faculty concerned about the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement Tuesday.

But BOT chairman Dick Beard said it is the trustees’ responsibility to ensure that leadership at a university is maintained.

“If at anytime for some reason she decided to leave, it takes months and years to not only find a new president and then get them up to speed,” Beard said. “We think consistent leadership has agreed to our strategic plans.”

Some members of the faculty union expressed concerns at a meeting Friday that the board wasn’t hesitant to renew Genshaft’s contract, but allowed the collective bargaining agreement to expire.

Faculty union president Roy Weatherford said a double standard is at stake because the board has handled corporate decisions and public relations without taking care of the faculty.

“I don’t think President Genshaft could get a job at any respectable university. The board has damaged her reputation,” Weatherford said. “They have made a hero out of (Sami) Al-Arian and a goat of out of Genshaft, who is widely perceived as a threat to academic freedom by the academic community. There is no urgency about keeping President Genshaft.”

But Beard said he disagrees with Weatherford. The trustees, he said, completed an extensive study of university presidents’ salaries with consultant Ray Cotton, vice president for Higher Education, before giving Genshaft a raise.

USF paid Cotton $22,000 to assess various presidents’ salaries at some comparable universities. The salaries are based on the institutions total expenditures and was reviewed by trustees to help determine Genshaft’s contract.

Beard said, based on the study, a number of presidents are paid much more than what Genshaft earned this year.

Florida A&M University’s president was shown to receive $371,275 in 2002, while one of the highest paid presidents makes $678,000 at George Washington University. Both universities operate on budgets of more than $650-million. Last year, USF, which has a $1-billion budget, paid Genshaft $237,800.

“She deserves to make what the market says she deserves to make,” Beard said. “I’m very comfortable that she is being paid for what she does.”

Urgency for signing the president, Cotton said, was left up to the board’s discretion.

Cotton said he had several discussions with the board about Genshaft’s contract, which went into effect Jan. 1. It was made clear that the board wanted to keep her, Cotton said.

“The big picture is stability of the university,” Cotton said.

“It is the board’s primary responsibility to ensure stability of the university.”

Included in Genshaft’s contract is paid tuition for her two children if they attend a state university and $2,500 worth of financial advice annually.

During the fourth year of Genshaft’s contract, she will be eligible to negotiate for another five-year contract. Until then, Genshaft will be evaluated by the board’s chairman each year and awarded raises based on her performance.

Beard said approval for another raise will be based on how well Genshaft meets the five goals of the university’s strategic plan.

Some of the goals include: teaching and lifelong learning in a student-centered environment, an institution that serves the metropolitan area and maintains cultural and ethnic diversity and global understanding.