Faculty express concern over administrative bonuses

News that USF administrators have received bonuses has frustrated many faculty members, particularly because of the continual budget cuts the University has endured.

The Tampa Tribune reported Tuesday that USF gave out $43,000 in bonuses in 2009 — after having its budget cut by about 15 percent, or $52 million, since fall 2007.

According to USF public records requested by the Tribune, Marshall Goodman, vice president and CEO of USF Polytechnic, received the highest bonus — $20,000. Other recipents of bonuses included Cynthia Visot, chief of staff to President Judy Genshaft, who received $11,500; student ombudsman Les Miller, who received $6,500; and chief technology officer Michael Pearce, who received $5,000.

It is unclear at this point whether more administrators received bonuses this year. The Tribune specifically requested bonus information for those four positions and not the entire administration, said USF spokesman Michael Hoad. Records for the remaining positions were not available as of Tuesday.

This comes after Genshaft implemented a freeze on administrative raises.

In addition to the 2009 bonuses, a document provided by a University official shows that $1.43 million in bonus money was distributed during 2008.

This freeze, however, did not affect bonus payments, Hoad said.

Faculty members said they are upset that administrative bonuses have continued despite difficult economic times, budget cuts and the threat of layoffs.

“To distribute bonuses — to administrators only — seems indefensible to me in the context of the financial situation,” said Faculty Senate President Larry Branch.

Branch said that in the Faculty Senate, which provides counsel to the president and provost on matters affecting USF, it puts strain between the administration and faculty members.

“Part of it is the appearance,” said Sherman Dorn, professor and president of USF’s United Faculty of Florida chapter.

Dorn said he was less concerned with the total amount of bonuses given than the large sizes of the bonuses.

“It’s corrosive of morals,” Dorn said.

Hoad said the bonuses were not out of line.

“Dr. Genshaft stuck to her promise not to increase salaries of her cabinet,” he said.

Faculty and administrators agreed on a 2 percent raise for faculty members beginning in 2009, Dorn said, because they said a one-time bonus was not worth as much.

With a roughly $120 million salary base, he said, this is equal to over $2 million for the entire year.

“If (money had been) given to cabinet members, 2 percent would be more than that,” Hoad said.

Bonus money can come from several sources, including state money or funds from the USF Foundation, which manages the University’s endowment and handles most of its fundraising.

Hoad said the amount of bonus money given in 2009 would not exceed 2 percent of administrative salary.

Bonus money can come from several sources, including state money or USF Foundation funds.

Steve Permuth, professor and vice president of Faculty Senate, said the money could be better uses, such as funding scholarships or other opportunities for students.

“I’m very disappointed because I think it’s an attempt to reward administrators when the people who work with students should be rewarded,” he said.

Additional reporting by Candace Braun and Julia Pappacoda.