The era of USF President Judy Genshaft is indeed coming to an end and there is no shortage of reactions.
Genshaft, 70, officially announced her retirement at a news conference Monday. Since then, students, faculty and alumni have weighed in on what this means for the future of USF and the legacy Genshaft is leaving behind her.
“It’s really hard to overstate the impact she had on this place,” Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Eric Eisenberg said. “Each president we’ve had has raised the bar, but Dr. Genshaft really had a vision for USF that was, at the time, well beyond what any of us thought was really possible.”
A staff member for over 25 years, Eisenberg said he has seen USF transform from a regional campus to a nationally recognized institution, crediting Genshaft for the transformation.
Jessica Muroff, the most recent female student body president at USF, served during the tenure of former University President Betty Castor. However, she got to know Genshaft as she continued to stay involved with USF.
“She (Genshaft) was always pushing us to the next level … During her tenure, for me as an alumnus, she has increased the value of my two degrees from USF immensely and I am so grateful for that,” Muroff said.
The news of Genshaft’s decision to retire came shortly after USF achieved preeminent status, as well as news that USF rose 10 places from No. 68 to No. 58 in the U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of public universities. The announcement came the week after Genshaft unveiled a new academic logo that will go into effect in October.
“The testament to her vision was that she was able to remain focused and to mobilize the institution to actively reach that vision,” Eisenberg said. “It’s made us all better. It’s made the brand better. It’s better for the students. It’s better for the alumni. It’s been a beautiful ride.”
As conversations begin to buzz about who Genshaft’s replacement will be, many hope the next president will share many of her values.
Senior and psychology major Cassidy David said Genshaft has been a staple at USF and she hopes her successor continues to build off Genshaft’s achievements.
“I just hope whoever comes after Genshaft has as much school spirit as she does,” Casey Gutwein, a junior majoring in criminology, said. “She really is a positive force when she attends events and it’s great to see the excitement students have when she’s around.”
Eisenberg said it is important to pick somebody that not only shares and appreciates President Genshaft’s goals but has the vision to continue to propel USF by pushing goals that were not priorities to Genshaft and one’s that she may not have the chance to complete.
“I think the university needs to come together as a region, Eisenberg said. “The university can play a role in bringing together the various counties that we serve … the consolidation is really the framework for developing a one university regional perspective.”
Muroff said she is hoping the next president will share the same passion as Genshaft.
“I hope they (the replacement) are as fierce of an advocate for the university as she was,” Muroff said. “What I loved most about her, was not only was she a leader for the university, she was a very visible and active leader in the region, and on the national scale. That’s what put USF on the map.”
Students also feel pride is an important characteristic for a university leader.
Junior and elementary education major Jasmine McIver said she is sad to see President Genshaft leave and she hopes the next president will have the same dedication that Genshaft has.
Isabella Lopes, a senior majoring in psychology, simply said she “hopes the next one doesn’t mess it up.”
As Genshaft prepares for her departure from USF, Muroff said she has one final request to make.
“Now that she’s retiring, maybe she can donate some of her wardrobes to me, not that I can fit in any of her clothes,” Muroff said. “She has the very best USF ensembles of anyone that I have ever seen.”
Additional reporting by Jesse Stokes