Letter to Dockery raises questions about USF Poly's leader
Sen. Paula Dockery was taken aback this week by a damning letter sent to her office about the regional chancellor of the University of South Florida Polytechnic. Anonymous, it lays out a litany of accusations against Marshall Goodman, who has led the campus since 2006. Among them:
- Faculty can't get money for academic programs and research because Dr. Goodman is "spending all the taxpayer's funds on his 'personal follies.'"
- Goodman hired his "buddies, cronies and even his family," including a son that is employed to run USF Polytechnic's Blue Sky business incubator site in downtown Lakeland.
- Goodman has siphoned off Student Government Association money for his "personal follies."
- When students try to speak out, they are shut down by the school's dean of students.
- Faculty members tell students they, too, have been threatened with their jobs if they voice concerns.
The letter asks Dockery to request a formal audit of USF Poly, which Dockery said she is looking into. It also claims that Goodman has "made it known he wants 'his own university, so he will not have to answer to anybody.'"
The Times has requested answers from USF Poly to the accusations, in addition to an interview with Goodman. In the meantime, we can tell you that at least one of them holds water -- Goodman's son, Robert, is employed at USF Polytechnic as the Program Planner Analyst in the school's entrepreneurship-venture planning department. The wordy title basically means that the junior Goodman serves as a liaison between USF Poly and the Blue Sky incubator. He makes $50,112 a year. He also served as an adjunct professor for a history of technology class at USF Poly, earning $3,000 for a semester.
USF Poly's future is currently at the center of a heated debate -- sparked by a group of Polk County leaders, including the powerful state Sen. J.D. Alexander, who urged state education leaders to break the school off from USF and make it the state's next public university. The decision ultimately rests with the Florida Board of Governors, which meets next month, and then the Florida Legislature, of which Alexander is the Senate budget chair.
"Everyone knows this is nothing more than 'two bullies' (Chancellor Goodman & Senator Alexander) wanting to create their own legacy at the expense of the students, faculty, staff and most of all, community members who have invested a lot in to the USF Lakeland and now Polytechnic campus," the letter to Dockery states (attached).
Dockery isn't the only state leader who's starting to get fed up with USF Poly. Yesterday, in an interview for today's story about a costly documentary USF Poly authorized earlier this year, Sen. Mike Fasano told the Times he's still waiting for answers to questions about how USF Poly could afford to break off on its own in such tough fiscal times.
"It's the 64 million dollar question, and good luck in trying to get an answer," Fasano said. "You've got one state senator who wants to leave his mark, and his mark is going to cost the taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars."