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USF think tank closes doors

ORACLE PHOTO/JACKIE BENITEZ

The USF Global Initiative for Civil Society and Conflict (GI) closed its doors last week amid public scrutiny.

The think tank was under fire after a Fox 13 investigation reported that it had more problems than were originally apparent, including an unclear mission statement, confusion over who the director was and a lack of accountability over the use of funds.

Similar allegations were investigated by University Audit and Compliance, according to USF spokesman Adam Freeman, and were proved to be unsubstantiated.

“The productivity and long-term viability of the Global Initiative has been under review by the leadership of the College of Arts & Sciences for a number of months to determine whether this is an effort worth continuing, and if so, under what future funding sources and structure,” Freeman said. “An internal productivity review, which was initiated by management in the college about a year and a half ago, was part of this process.”

The internal review said there were several problems including “very little face-to-face time between Director and staff,” “lack of clarity on roles and expectations,” “staff confusion on who is the ‘Director,’” and a lack of manager or financial officer. It also found issues in communications and marketing, and unclear strategic vision and mission.

Additionally, the Fox 13 report found that eight partnerships between GI and other universities were not in effect.

The initiative received about $250,000-$300,000 annually from the state government.

Last week, the university decided to immediately close the center where GI members conducted research, which effectively closed GI as well.

Founding director David Jacobson will remain at the school as a faculty member with the Department of Sociology. He is expected to continue his research about civil societies and conflicts, according to Freeman. His new salary will be $155,528 and he will no longer receive an administrative stipend of $22,500.

GI’s other employee, Adib Farhadi, will also remain as a faculty member with CAS. His salary will be $71,912.