USF President Judy Genshaft is seeking to replace medical school dean and vice president of the Health Sciences Center Robert Daugherty Jr.
The decision comes after Genshaft made Daugherty return campaign contribution checks for state Rep. Johnnie Byrd R-Plant City, who is running for the U.S. Senate, that he obtained from medical school staff members.
Genshaft talked to Daugherty on Monday to inform him she will begin a search for a new dean.
Genshaft said Daugherty is not fired, but will be replaced by an interim dean in the next few weeks. She added that she wanted to have the time to find a new dean as soon as possible.
“It is important to get started,” Genshaft said. “We had talked about the search in the summer and then in September.”
Genshaft said the meeting was simply to discuss the search and to explain to Daugherty that she needs to begin immediately. She added that the issue of campaign contributions was not related to the beginning of the search, and was not discussed in the meeting Monday.
“One event preceded another and they are two separate issues,” she said.
After hearing comments in the administration office about Daugherty’s actions, Genshaft said she called him to find out if the comments were true.
Daugherty acknowledged that in the past few weeks he asked about 25 of his top-ranking employees for at least $2,000 in contributions for the Byrd campaign. About a dozen gave Daugherty checks that he then gave to a secretary to keep locked in a desk.
It is illegal in Florida for public employees to solicit political contributions while working on government time or to solicit or collect contributions in government facilities.
Michael Hoad, associate vice president in the Health Sciences Center public affairs office, said he doesn’t think that Daugherty feels that the search was initiated because he was soliciting checks for Byrd’s campaign but was an agreement that Genshaft and Daugherty had made when he arrived at USF in 2000. “It takes time to recruit for a job like this,” Hoad said. “I think the president wanted to start the search as soon as possible because it can take a long time.”
Hoad said the process of finding a new dean is time consuming, but that a search committee and a national search firm will mostly likely be put into place rather quickly.
“There was no search for his position (in 2000) and so it was on an emergency basis when (Daugherty) was hired,” Hoad said. “They both made an agreement and so it was up to the President when she felt the search should begin and when he would step down.
“He came out of retirement to take the job here at USF and he will probably return once he is replaced. He will stay until an interim is named, but doesn’t want to be here for the year (it will take to find a new dean).”
Hoad added that Daugherty didn’t argue when he was told by Genshaft to return the money.
“I think when he saw it may look like he was influencing people that report to him he agreed the best thing to do was to stop, give the money back and cancel the event,” he said.
Daugherty, who makes $448,000 a year, said in a St. Petersburg Times article that he was surprised by the decision Genshaft made. Daugherty oversees 2,800 employees and 1,800 students at USF’s Colleges of Nursing, Public Health and Medicine. He said the two had recently agreed to postpone the search for a replacement until January.
“I had no idea,” Daugherty, who couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday, told the Times. “I came here to help USF. I was not here for the long haul … I’ve done everything there is to do.”
Hoad said he wasn’t sure how much the dozen employees had given Daugherty in checks because the secretary was given envelopes.
“She called everyone who made contributions and told them to come pick up their money,” Hoad said. “There was no record.”
The money, Hoad said, was to be given to Byrd when he visited campus Tuesday. However, Byrd canceled his trip. Hoad added that the visit was to show Byrd a presentation on a proposed USF medical building that needs legislative funding.
Byrd issued a statement Tuesday stating, “I was not aware that Dean Daugherty was raising funds on my behalf while on USF property. This should not have happened and it is not the way I want money to be raised for my U.S. Senate campaign.”
Byrd added that when he was notified of Daugherty’s actions he felt it was only appropriate to cancel his visit to USF.
Last year, Daugherty and his wife Joy Culverhouse and Culverhouse’s son each gave Byrd $500 and hosted a fund raiser at the Tampa Club that raised $20,000 for him.
Susan MacManus, USF political science professor and analyst, said tension is high during the campaign season but doesn’t think the actions taken by Daugherty would affect Byrd’s campaign.
“You need to expect hardball politics in high profile races such as the U.S. Senate,” MacManus said.
Daugherty has been at USF for three years and is married to Joy, widow of Hugh Culverhouse Sr., former owner of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. She has given more than $15 million to USF since 1988.
Last summer, the Daughertys donated $500,000 for an Academic Enrichment Center that will be located in the new athletics facility that is being built.
Daugherty told the Times the couple would reduce or perhaps eliminate future donations to USF and will make more national contributions.
However, Genshaft said she hopes the couple agrees to continue to make donations to the university.
“We have always been grateful to them,” she said. “They have made significant donations for very important projects and I hope they continue to give because those projects are very important.”