Members of the Board of Trustees Compensation Committee had nothing but words of high praise for USF President Judy Genshaft as they reviewed her annual self-evaluation and decided to recommend to the full Board of Trustees in two weeks the resident receive the full amount of the performance stipend the committee is allowed to award to her — $122,500.
Three members of the four-person committee spoke via conference call with the president’s chief of staff listening in Friday afternoon to evaluate Genshaft’s performance and review the goals she set for herself during her 13th year as president of USF.
Genshaft, who receives an annual base salary of $470,000 per year, in addition to a 12 percent deferred compensation of base salary, a retention stipend of $100,000 annually at the completion of her contract in 2016, membership at Tampa Palms Country Club and University Club, a car and residence at the Lifsey House, which she does not use, is eligible each year for up to $175,000 in a performance stipend that comes from private, non-state funds, of which 70 percent is at the discretion of the compensation and 30 percent — or the remaining $52,500 — is decided upon by the chairman of the BOT. Last year, Genshaft chose to defer the payment of her performance bonus and received $545,527.16 in total compensation, according to a public records request.
“This is a very exciting time for USF — especially under Dr. Genshaft. … I think we all agree she has performed incredibly well and has guided us through the tough political waters last year and the difficult economic climate since 2008,” chairman of the committee and Board of Trustees member Jordan Zimmerman said. “I believe she is the reason USF has emerged from this period as a stronger, more streamlined, more focused system.”
The committee discussed Genshaft’s performance and actions toward each goal particularly in light of the state funding challenges the university faces.
Zimmerman said while the university is appreciative of the restoration of the $45 million in recurring funding that was cut the year before during statewide budget cuts to the University System — something Board of Governors now-chairman Mori Hosseini wrote to USF about less than a month ago, expressing disappointment in USF’s stance of publicly continuing budget reductions in relation to state funding — he said much of USF’s financial stability was due to Genshaft’s leadership.
“Under President Genshaft, we are seeing budget reductions,” he said. “We are seeing elimination of non-value-adding programs — of programs that do not have demand for jobs … We are seeing realigning revenue with expenses to result in savings that could be invested back into the strategic priorities.”
The committee praised Genshaft on meeting, for the most part, the three goals she set for herself in the areas of student success, research and revenue-generating funds.
Genshaft met and exceeded all the sub-goals she set for herself in the category of student success for the Tampa campus — the freshman retention rate is above 89 percent, the six-year graduation rate is above 54 percent, the average incoming first-time in college FTIC SAT score is above 1738. The St. Petersburg campus, however, “fell a little short,” Zimmerman said, with a freshman retention rate of 69 percent, a six-year graduation rate of 33 percent and an average incoming FTIC SAT score of 1585.
Byron Shinn, a trustee on the committee, said Genshaft should be praised, however, for bringing Sophia Wisniewska as regional chancellor when Margaret Sullivan stepped down in August, writing in a letter to Genshaft in May that she was stepping down and the institution was on a good trajectory.
“She changed the chancellor for St. Pete,” Shinn said. “She recognized the improvements that needed to be made, so she’s making the tough decisions needed to meet those goals, even though we fell short slightly.”
In terms of research, the university exceeded its goal of $400 million in contracts and grants by $13 million, met its goal of fostering an “innovation culture” and promoting “intellectual property of faculty, students and staff” through patents and licensing with a record number of technology transfers during the fiscal year and met its goal of “enhanc(ing) the workforce and increas(ing) employment in our community and state” through creating and aiding new businesses and startups.
The goal of remaining in the top 50 in research expenditure rankings for public and private institutions was partially met, as USF remained ranked No. 33 by the National Science Foundation out of public institutions, but fell to No. 53 out of all institutions.
“The decline was not for a lack of growth in expenditures but an increase in institutions reporting,” the self-evaluation document stated. “USF expenditures increased, going from $385 million to $395 million (USF Tampa).”
Shinn said the federal sequestration this year created further strain on researchers.
Zimmerman said on the research front, USF continued to remain strong.
“Research is what will continue to differentiate our great USF,” he said.
Genshaft’s third goal of revenue- generating funds, including fundraising, was one that also had mixed results.
Some goals such as increasing the enrollment of out-of-state and international students, who pay about three times the rate of in-state tuition, were exceeded with “a whopping” 19 percent increase and revenue from online education increased significantly, and the trustees commended Genshaft and the USF Foundation for surpassing their $600 million Unstoppable Campaign goal and raising it to $1 billion.
Other sub-goals, such as creating a process by which “baseline funding developed to meet the core missions of the university,” securing funding for and beginning construction on the USF Health Heart Institute, meeting economic development targets for the Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation and extending partnerships to secure USF Health’s financial stability were “partially met.”
Shinn asked the trustees to discuss the recent comments made on USF’s overall financial standing.
“One thing that makes me nervous is the results that we just got on the overall financial position of the general fund … that isn’t directly one of the line items you discussed, however, it is part of the overall financial package of the university, which she is ultimately over,” he said. “And this doesn’t take away anything from all the great things she’s doing.”
BOT member Brian Lamb said the financial situation was one with “lots of moving parts” and one that Genshaft has worked to mitigate.
The committee, which weighted their recommendation 40 percent on student success and 30 percent on the other two goals, will present their recommendation to the full board Dec. 5.