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Genshaft Bonus, St. Pete Housing Rates, Taggart Rumors On Minds Of USF Trustees

Mark Schreiner
WUSF 89.7 News
The USF Board of Trustees held its final meeting of 2016 on the Tampa campus Thursday.

The University of South Florida Board of Trustees held its final scheduled meeting of 2016 in Tampa Thursday, and financial matters for students and System President Judy Genshaft were among the biggest items on the agenda.

The trustees approved a $168,875 bonus for Genshaft, which was doled out in two parts.

Acting on her performance review, the board's Governance Committee recommended that she receive 95 percent of the part they control, which ended up being just over $116,000.

After the full board agreed on that amount, Board Chairman Brian Lamb decided to award Genshaft an additional $52,500, the maximum level he was allowed.

Lamb said he based his decision on how well USF is measuring up against other institutions, including the 62 members of the Association of American Universities, a group USF is aiming to join.

"How are we tracking both in state peers, AAU peers, even our conference peers around student success, athletic performance, how are we stacking up nationally," he said.

The stipend brings Genshaft's total compensation for the year, with other allowances factored in, to just over $795,000. Her one-year contract - the only length allowed by the State University System Board of Governors - ends June 30, 2017. Lamb says the Board should start discussions on her next possible contract in February or March.

Genshaft received the full $175,000 bonus allowance in December 2015.

Genshaft's annual review praised her for helping meet most of the university's goals over the last year, but also pointed out that some student performance numbers came up short, particularly at USF St. Petersburg. In addition, goals for fundraising and endowment performance were also not met.

After the meeting, Genshaft indicated she and her staff will work on improving those short-comings.

"We are actively involved, everybody's actively involved, in making sure we meet those goals next year," she said. "It's very clear - it's all metric - so we know exactly what went wrong and we know exactly how to fix it."

Genshaft, who turned 68 in January, has been USF's president since 2000. In an interview earlier this year, she said she has no plans to step down anytime soon.

Among other items the trustees approved was a move to raise the rent on student housing at the St. Petersburg campus by an average of 4.3 percent in 2017 and 2018 and 4 percent in 2019. Rents have been raised once in the last five years.

"I think the fact that (rent) hasn't been raised but the one time has put us in a deficit for taking care of our facilities and the safety and security of our students," USFSP Regional Vice Chancellor of Administrative and Financial Services Joseph Trubacz said.

"So what we'll do with that additional funding is take care of our facilities, as well as put in some additional cameras for the housing, as well as probably add an additional personnel in programming, which should help with our retention rate and ultimately our graduation rate."

Trubacz added that plans continue for a new residence hall that would add 450 beds. He said eleven private partners submitted proposals, which have been whittled down to five finalists. Those proposals should be made public next week. The new hall is scheduled to open in Fall of 2019.

In addition, Regional Chancellor Sophia Wisniewska announced that construction of the new Lynn Pippenger Hall, the home of the USFSP Kate Tiedemann College of Business, is nearing completion. A ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for January 17, 2017.

And even though it wasn't on the agenda, the success of the USF football team - and the possible defection of head coach Willie Taggart - was on some minds.

When asked about recent reports by ESPN, CBS Sports and Fox Sports connecting Willie Taggart to high-profile vacancies at schools like the University of Oregon, athletic director Mark Harlan said, "We don't comment on rumors," before breaking into a big smile and adding, "but thanks for asking."

Genshaft was slightly more forthcoming, saying, ""We think Willie is just right for USF, and we're going to do everything we can to make sure he stays with us. We'll see."

Taggart's contract was extended through 2020 last December after USF made its first bowl game appearance in five years. The team had its best season ever this year, going 10-2 with a 7-1 record in the American Athletic Conference.

Taggart has posted a 24 and 25 record in four years at USF, but has gone 18 and 7 in the last two seasons. USF should find out this Sunday what bowl game it will be invited to.

Mark Schreiner is the assistant news director and intern coordinator for WUSF News.