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Q and A with President Genshaft

Entering her fifth as the president of the University of South Florida, Judy Genshaft will have some issues to deal with from allocating the new budget to dealing with the new faculty salary increase.

Genshaft said she is excited about the upcoming school year and what it brings. She added that she “loves USF and has no plans on leaving anytime soon.”

She sat down in the beginning of the month and explained her priorities for the 2004-05 school year and weighed in on the issues that USF would be facing.

With a better budget delegated by the state this year how will USF benefit?

A: We are very please with the budget that we received from the state and what we are looking to do is to increase the amount of money that goes toward instruction. That includes professors, their salaries, adjuncts, classes, etc., and we are working very hard to make sure that the state money goes toward instruction. What is important to know is that the state gives us a certain amount of money for our students.

What is the status on the negotiations with the Faculty Union and the contract?

A: It hasn’t been settled. We are very hopeful that we will settle soon. This is the largest (salary) raise proposed increase than I think the faculty has ever received at this university. We are looking for a 12 percent increase over three years.

What are your feelings on taking 5 percent out of non-academic area budgets to support the new faculty salary increase?

A: What we are doing is, we know that we receive 100 percent back from the state if we spend the state dollars on instruction. If we don’t spend the state dollars on instruction we receive only 42 percent back from though state. So, what each university tries to do is when we receive state money is to make sure the largest portion possible goes into instruction. Over the years, our university has diverted some of our state money for non-instructional activities. So what we’ve done is pull that back, so we can put it back into instruction. We have looked at all the vice presidential areas, including the president’s office, advancement, research, student affairs, every single vice presidential office, and looked at what they were doing with their state money, and is it mission critical? And if it is not mission critical than we pull it back for instruction.

How do you respond to the poor morale on campus between staff and faculty because of the new salary increase?

A: (It is) Hard to take cuts and experience something different. We will use the example that spending state dollars on the Bull Runner isn’t the appropriate way to spend the money, it’s meant for instruction not the transportation system. So, we want to pull back those kinds of dollars and put it where it’s supposed to be because we get a 100 percent back if we do that, rather than 42 percent. It will help much much more (overall), and so we are re-structing the budget internally and so change often difficult. Now money will be coming back to them and it will be coming back in a variety of forms, but mainly it will be coming back as the largest increase in salaries for faculty than they have ever had. The reason why staff is not getting than much of increase is because if you compare the salaries of the faculty with the faculty nationally, they are lower than our counterparts. When you look at staff salary and compare them to our counterparts they are not as low. So there is a difference.

What are your views on the English department chaos? What steps are being taken?

A: Clearly issues have been identified and we are working to correct problems. This is mainly the area of the provost and she and her vice provosts have been working on this all summer, so I would refer you to the provost.

What are your feelings about the Board of Governors requesting more students and faculty to use up classrooms on Fridays and Saturdays?

A: Well the Board of Governors is very concerned about the space utilization and that we make sure that our physical plant is used as much as possible. Some people would welcome taking more classes on Fridays and Saturdays. Some of those classes that you can think about, where we have a limited space, are laboratories. Some students can’t get into the labs. So they may even welcome some Friday, Saturday and Sunday classes. This is something again that the provost’s office will be looking at and it is an issue that we are going to here over and over again from the BOG for all universities.

The BOG is proposing a possible exit program to go through before graduating college (i.e. taking tests or writing essays) in order to help improve accountability, do you agree or disagree with that proposal?

A: I have opposed standardize testing for college (for a long time). We use standardize testing as in the SATs and ACTs, but once you are admitted the testing that you have is done through the classes that you have and what is done through your professors. I am oppose as well as the provos,t to any extra testing because we already have so many measures that we are being graded on. We have the SACs accreditation, tests given by individual disciplines such as nursing and teaching. We are looked at a variety of ways through different criteria across the board and I don’t believe we need more, but the BOG may or may not decide differently.

During the summer a lot of new appointments took place and several people left or moved around the university. What do you have to say about their departures and arrivals?

A: It’s very common that during the summer time that you have a change of personnel because of the academic calendar we are on. It’s a dynamic institution nothing stays the same. People move on different reasons, retirement, and change of location or whatever. Most of the time you will see that over the summer. It’s just a common occurrence. It’s hard to see people leave but its part of the institution.

What advice would you give new students on campus for the first time?

A: Well let me just say it is a very exciting campus. We welcome all the students and not every day is like the first day of class. It takes a while to sort out your classes, friends and activities, but USF is a fantastic university. I say to all students that make sure that you all attend classes, get to meet your professors and get involved with activities because it makes the college experience so much more meaningful. Don’t be afraid to ask for any kind of help because we have people who are eager to assist.

With the January 2005 trial of former USF professor Sami Al-Arian, how will USF administration play a part and what are your thoughts about USF being in the limelight once again?

A: That is now an issue for the federal courts and Dr. Al-Arian

Do you think the controversy surround academic freedom is finished?

A: We are working hard in setting up a shared governance system with the faculty, particularly the Faculty Senate and we are trying to work together. We are hopeful that issues that are a concerned of the administration will talk to the faculty and issues that the faculty have will talk to the administration. Academic freedom is absolutely a key value of institutions like ours.

Do you have any plans on leaving USF, seems that the six years is about the average stay for a university president?

A: No plans on leaving anytime soon. I love it. I love the University of South Florida. I am very excited about the 2004-05 school year and I welcome all of the students, and faculty and staff back.