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Genshaft says Tampa Bay key to USF success

Stressing USF’s importance to the Tampa Bay community, USF President Judy Genshaft outlined the progress of the university’s strategic plan Thursday in her spring address.

“I can say without reservation, this community is embracing USF more than (at) any time since I’ve been president,” Genshaft said.

She said the university’s involvement in a research project in East Tampa with Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio.

“USF is and must be a part of the fabric of this community,” Genshaft said. “For the first time in Tampa Bay, education, government and business have an alignment of vision, purpose and strategy, and USF is taking a greater leadership role than ever before.”

She noted her appointment as chair of the Tampa Chamber of Commerce’s Committee of 100, the first ever for a university president.

Regarding the regional campuses, Genshaft mentioned expansions of the Lakeland and Sarasota campuses, and separate accreditation and increased autonomy at USF St. Petersburg. She also noted a change in the title of the heads of each regional campus, from campus vice president to Regional Chancellor, falling in line with other regional universities in the country.

“USF continues to evolve into a system of higher education institutions,” Genshaft said.

She recognized the contributions of many faculty members, in Undergraduate Research experience led by Honors College Dean Stuart Silverman, Renu Khator’s appointment earlier this semester as provost, and Lee Roy Selmon’s tenure as athletic director.

She said the university did not meet its strategic plan’s goals in many areas, including faculty salaries, graduation and retention rates, national academy members and median SAT scores.

Faculty salaries need to be raised to a nationally competitive level, Genshaft said.

“We must provide the resources to retain and recruit the highest caliber faculty and provide them with (a) talented staff to fulfill this vision.”

Khator said after the address that she supports Genshaft’s vision for improvements in these areas.

“Those are our top priorities this year, with (faculty) salaries being one of them,” Khator said.

To meet these goals, Genshaft said pointedly that sacrifices may have to occur.

“In fact, for some areas of the university, it will require dramatic changes in the way we operate financially,” she said. “But we absolutely must do what needs to be done.”

With the Board of Governors basing evaluations on universities’ graduation and retention rates, Genshaft said, “It is not enough for us to simply enroll students. We have an obligation to guide their academic progress.”

Genshaft reminded the audience that last year the board able to stave off massive budget cuts, and, with her fingers crossed, she said it appears that USF will receive funding for enrollment growth, scholarship matching funds and planning money for a new music building.

She also noted that earlier this year USF received its largest gift ever from an alumnus. The $5-million donation from charter graduate Jack Boyd and his wife Janis is earmarked for scholarships in athletics and business.

“USF’s alumni base is growing up,” Genshaft said. “They are feeling more pride, and they are increasingly giving back in ways to make USF a stronger university.”