Bonuses, a study to determine the feasibility of an on-campus football stadium and increased housing rates at USF St. Petersburg were hot topics at Thursday morning’s Board of Trustees (BOT) meeting in the Marshall Student Center Ballroom.
USF System President Judy Genshaft received a bonus of $168,875 out of a possible $175,000 from the BOT based on the university’s performance under her leadership during the 2015-16 academic year.
The BOT Governance Committee controls 70 percent of the stipend and recommended she receive $116,375 or 95 percent of it.
BOT chair Brian Lamb controls the other 30 percent of the stipend, which amounts to $52,500. He awarded Genshaft the whole amount, bringing the stipend to just under $169,000. Lamb praised Genshaft for her leadership and ability to move the university forward.
“Here’s my observation,” he said. “We had a fantastic year and I will tell you we wouldn’t be where we were without our president. She did a fantastic job.”
Genshaft said she was satisfied with the amount and thanked the BOT members.
“I can tell you that this really does mean a lot,” she said. “… Nothing is more important than your name and what you bring for it on behalf of the University of South Florida, so I feel very blessed that I’m working for such a great university system and I am very pleased and thankful for your confidence in me.”
During the report on the USF Tampa campus, Genshaft said the university has a contract out for a feasibility study to look at a possible on-campus football stadium. Genshaft said the contractor is the same one that built the Marshall Student Center in 2008.
At the beginning of the meeting, the BOT praised USF Director of Athletics Mark Harlan and USF football coach Willie Taggart on this season's 10-2 record and the Bulls achieving a national ranking.
While Lamb began the meeting by saying that there was much to celebrate at USF, the St. Petersburg campus was subject to scrutiny following its performance on state funding metrics and its proposed housing rate increase.
USF St. Petersburg hasn’t increased its housing rates in five years and asked the BOT to approve a series of increases over a three-year period, with an average increase of 4.3 percent in fall 2017, another average increase of 4.3 percent in fall 2018 and an average 4 percent increase in fall 2019. The proposed increases comes in light of debt and maintenance costs.
Regional Vice Chancellor for Administrative and Financial Services at USF St. Petersburg Joseph Trubacz spoke to the board about leaking floors in one of the residence halls on the campus, a problem BOT vice chair Jordan Zimmerman was surprised hadn’t been fixed through the use of reserve maintenance funds.
At the end of a lengthy discussion, the BOT voted to approve the increase in housing rates provided it gets annual updates and the ability to vote on increases in the coming years. The sudden increase in housing prices is also a step USF Tampa campus had to make to keep up with its own maintenance costs for its housing facilities, some of which predate the ones at USF St. Petersburg by decades.
Many of the trustees said it was a lesson learned in trying to keep housing rates unchanging while the markets change.
“… We need more transparency for students to understand that nothing stays the same, that our rates continue to go up, the cost of living goes up every single year and that that’s a valuable lesson they can learn in the education process today,” Zimmerman said.