Senator accuses USF leaders of misleading BOG on Polytechnic

The Board of Governors’ (BOG) resolution on USF Polytechnic’s potential split from the USF System left a volatile aftermath, including with one of the split’s initial supporters.

In a letter sent to the BOG on Nov. 16, Sen. J.D. Alexander, R-Lake Wales, accused USF System President Judy Genshaft, Board of Trustees (BOT) Chair John Ramil and BOT member Gene Engle of making “purposefully misleading” statements.

The letter said USF System leaders tried to vilify Polytechnic Regional Chancellor Marshall Goodman, who developed the business plan for the proposed independent university, for the construction contracting of Polytechnic’s Science & Technology building. “The reality is that the USF Facilities Planning and Construction Department, under the leadership of President Genshaft and the USF Board of Trustees led by former Chair Rhea Law and (current Chair) John Ramil, directly handled the negotiations for procurement of the development of this building,” Alexander wrote.

Alexander said Genshaft and Engle both traveled with Goodman to New York twice to approve the purchases. He further claimed USF accepted $1 million from construction contractor Skanska to purchase Steinway pianos for the School of Music.

Alexander said USF is intentionally trying “to harm Chancellor Goodman’s professional reputation in order to defeat the consideration of Polytechnic’s independence,” and called for an investigation into the actions of all USF leaders and BOT members, as well as full disclosure of their expenditures.

University spokesman Michael Hoad said Alexander’s claims were not true.

“We have never tried to discredit the campus or the hiring of Santiago Calatrava (the architect of the Science & Technology building),” he said. “We never did criticize that, nor did we criticize Marshall Goodman.”

Genshaft sent a letter to the Board in response to Alexander’s claims, saying USF prided itself in its transparency and was happy to answer any questions the BOG may have.

She also stated the USF System website would also begin tracking the progress toward Polytechnic’s independence the following day.

The website section, “USF Polytechnic: Tracking Progress to the Future,” lists all the necessary criteria before the BOG would grant it independence.

In a media statement, Genshaft said USF would continue to work with Polytechnic in meeting the criteria set by the BOG.

“We are very pleased to have the Board of Governors decision and thoughtful criteria for the future of USF Polytechnic,” she said. “We take our task very seriously, and will work hard to move this forward.”