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Out of the courtroom and into the classroom

The man selected to be USF’s top attorney hopes to save the university’s time and money by resolving conflicts before they develop into legal issues.

Steve Prevaux was hired Aug. 4 to become USF’s new general counsel when interim general counsel R.B. Friedlander chose not to seek the position again for personal reasons. Friedlander, however, will assume the role of associate general counsel.

Prevaux has previously worked in various legal facets of the Florida education system. Before moving to Tampa, Prevaux served for seven years as the senior associate general counsel at the University of Florida and has also worked as counsel to the Board of Regents in the state capital.

Prevaux said he took the offer because Tampa and USF have many compelling opportunities.

“I found it very appealing that this university is actively moving onward and upward to realize its potential,” Prevaux said.

The general counsel is ultimately responsible for defending the university legally, something Prevaux said is a “meaningful challenge.”

“I enjoy defending a client with such a noble purpose. It’s the main reason I left private practice to work for higher education in the public sector,” Prevaux said.

USF President Judy Genshaft was responsible for hiring Prevaux. According to Michael Reich, director of media relations, Genshaft is pleased he accepted the position.

“(Prevaux is) sharp, dynamic and one of the best higher education lawyers in the state,” Reich said.

He will be an extremely valuable resource and advocate for our students, faculty and staff.”

Reich praised Prevaux for his versatility and knowledge of the law.

“There aren’t many people with a 360-degree view of Florida’s education laws, especially since so many of those laws have changed in recent years,” Reich said.

(Prevaux) has that kind of perspective, both from the statewide and the university levels.”

Prevaux said he has many expectations for his new job, including employing his own experiences to help forge new ones.

“I expect to apply my past experience in new ways to aid in the resolution of conflicts before they deteriorate into litigation matters,” Prevaux said. “If effective, it frees up my client to focus attention where needed most, accomplishing the university’s academic mission.”

USF spent more than $54,000 in legal expenditures on the Sami Al-Arian case and Genshaft said she spent more than half her days examining the former professor’s case.

Prevaux said he could not comment on the pending litigation with Al-Arian and whether that influenced his decision to work for USF.

“No single case influenced my decision to apply for or accept the position of general counsel,” he said.

Cases come and go, but USF will endure for years and generations to come.”

There were 94 applicants for the position and Prevaux was one of four finalists interviewed for the job.

Other finalists included: Joseph T. Barron Jr., of Eastern Illinois University; Nancy S. Footer of Bowling Green State University and Edward Stoner II, member of the Employment Law and Benefits group in Pittsburgh.