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Officials question outsider’s abilities

Three organizations have banded together to bring in an outside reviewer to examine USF’s budget, but administrators are questioning his credentials and the process by which he was selected.

Student Government, Faculty Senate and the USF chapter of United Faculty of Florida all want answers to financial questions, such as why the University has $240 million of untouched money in its unrestricted reserves and whether its budget is being handled correctly. They hope that by bringing in Larry Dubeck, a physics professor from Temple University, they can get some answers.

Each organization contributed $1,000 to bring Dubeck to Tampa from Philadelphia.

President Judy Genshaft, however, said she doubts Dubeck’s capabilities.

“It’s very confusing as to why his credentials don’t match this budget scenario. He doesn’t have credentials that show that he is efficient with budgeting,” Genshaft said.

She also said she wasn’t sure why the administration wasn’t approached by the organizations about Dubeck.

“They didn’t include us in the selection process. They asked us for money, but not for our help,” she said.

Faculty Senate Vice President Steve Permuth said the senate wanted the administration to be involved and sponsor the initiative, even if they weren’t going to pay for it.

“We asked them last week if they wanted to participate, and the answer was no,” he said.

When presented with Dubeck’s nomination, Provost Ralph Wilcox declined because of Dubeck’s lack of qualifications.

“I haven’t seen compelling credentials from Mr. Dubeck, other than I’m sure he is a fine physics professor and an aficionado of chess,” Wilcox said. “Beyond that, I haven’t seen any evidence of him being able to bring anything of added value to helping us better understand the financial system of higher education in Florida, which is a unique system.”

Permuth said Dubeck is qualified, however, explaining that he is one of the authors of the National Association of College and University Business Officers’ handbook on college and university budgeting.

“He was one of the first people to point out to us correctly that there was $240 million in USF’s unrestricted reserve budget,” Permuth said. “Has anybody in the administration ever heard him speak or read any of his articles?”

Though SG Senate President Juan Soltero said he partially agrees with Genshaft, he believes Dubeck was chosen for a reason and that he is qualified for the job.

“If it was me and I was the University president, if there was something that I was doing wrong, maybe I would advise differently,” he said. “I’m not saying that necessarily President Genshaft is wrong — I admire her and she does a great job — but a lot of things aren’t up to her to decide.”

During Tuesday’s senate meeting, Soltero told his fellow senators they were doing the bare minimum and challenged them to be more involved.

“A lot of senators in the SG Senate are just Tuesday-night senators, and they may not know if he is qualified or not, but the Faculty Senate is made up of tenured professors that are pushing for this,” he said.

Soltero said a lot of things have come to light because of budget cuts and compared this budget review to the budget investigation of Student Affairs in October 2007.

“Student Affairs was audited in October 2007, and there were many faults found in how Student Affairs managed money,” he said.

With the possibility of more budget cuts from the state, Dubeck’s upcoming budget review will be intensely scrutinized by all parties involved.

“Best case scenario would be a 5 to 6 percent cut. Worst case scenario would be more like a 10 or 11 percent cut. The 10 percent cut is about a $54 million cut, which is huge,” Genshaft said. “All 11 Florida universities will be cut the same. This will hit us in the academic area, which to me is right in the heart.”

Dubeck was chosen by a task force, headed by Permuth. The task force was created by Faculty Senate President Laurence Branch and is charged with examining matters of budget and finances that would directly impact faculty members, Permuth said.

Dubeck is scheduled to begin his review in January.