Thursday, November 15, 2018
Education

What they’re saying: The reaction to USF president Judy Genshaft’s retirement news

Across the Tampa Bay area, people are reacting to today’s news that USF president Judy Genshaft will retire next summer. They include a range of voices, including leaders in the realms of government, business, education, health and sports. Here is a sampling of what they are saying:

"I met her day one as a freshman, and my growth as a leader coincided with her tenure. As a student you always knew you were her priority. … When you sit down and you look at the legacies of certain individuals in our region over the last couple of decades … and you think about who you would put on this Mount Rushmore of leaders, Judy Genshaft would be on it. … Make no mistake: Our unemployment rate is as low as it is, our job growth is as stellar as it is in part because of her ability to meet the demands of our current and future workforces. She is everywhere." — Former Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce chairman Mike Griffin, who was on the student advisory committee during the presidential search that hired Genshaft

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"She has been a great partner to me and the entire business community. Leaving at the top of her game. Thanks Judy for believing in what this city and USF could be." — Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn via Twitter

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"The university — academically, it’s never been in a better position. We’ve increased our academic standing. Gaining the Phi Beta Kappa (chapter) was something that started even before I became president. She gets the credit for moving it along. … It’s just been one good academic accomplishment after another." — Former USF president Betty Castor

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"The governor appreciates Judy Genshaft’s 18 years of service to the University of South Florida and wishes her the best. Under her leadership, USF has made great strides. Working with President Genshaft and USF, the state has been able to hold the line on tuition for the last five years — a tremendous accomplishment that has kept higher education affordable in Florida." — John Tupps, communications director for Gov. Rick Scott

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"President Genshaft has worked tirelessly to execute her vision for the university. I wish her a happy and healthy retirement and trust that her successor will build on the progress in Tampa while also providing steady leadership and resources to the crown jewel that is USF St. Pete." — St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman

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"If you look at any — any — statistic from 18 years ago versus today, the trend line has just been upward in every regard. … (Genshaft is) "a tireless supporter and cheerleader for the university — the students, the alumni, everyone. She has left them a real legacy." — Former Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio

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"I am a big fan of president Genshaft and her service building USF into a first-class university and embedding it into the economic and cultural life of Tampa Bay." — Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush

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"Judy has done a tremendous job, as evidenced by the university recently achieving preeminent status. The next president will have big shoes to fill, but inherits a university in terrific condition." — Developer and Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik

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"The new med school coming downtown is just a very visible focus for what this community is becoming and the fact that the university is a part of it. … Her willingness to do new things, to think about things differently, has been a huge boon for the university. It’s because of that we now see that we are competitive with universities that are twice and three times our age." — Tampa lawyer Rhea Law, who was on the selection committee that picked Genshaft and later chaired the USF Board of Trustees

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"You certainly have to say USF made dramatic progress during her time — in academic excellence, fundraising endowments, the growth of the branch campuses, its reputation cross the country. … As somebody who graduated from USF St. Pete when it was a couple of Army barracks, it’s quite a difference. It certainly grew more during her tenure than all the other ones put together. Having a downtown campus that has 5,000 students on the way to 10 (thousand) is a big deal for a community as we try to build for the future." — Former St. Petersburg City Council member Karl Nurse

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"You hate to see her leave because of what she’s done and the passion she has and how much she loves not only the student-athletes, but all students on this campus. I can remember when I came here (for) interviews we were talking, and she was like, ‘Coach, if I see anybody with any type of shirt other than South Florida, I make ‘em take it off, and I just march ‘em to the bookstore and put a shirt on ‘em.’ That shows you right there how passionate she is about the university." — USF football coach Charlie Strong

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Seven years ago she graciously welcomed Johns Hopkins to Tampa Bay and I have appreciated her leadership in the encouragement of strong collaboration between USF and Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. …Her vision and tenacity for moving forward have made her a strong partner and a game changer for our region, most recently exemplified by the process for joint accreditation across the three University of South Florida’s campuses. — Dr. Jonathan Ellen, president and vice dean at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital

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"I consider her a friend. Our district’s theme this year is ‘We Climb Together’ and there is no better example of how our K-12 schools and our university system have worked together to make this a better community than through the leadership of Judy Genshaft." — Hillsborough County school superintendent Jeff Eakins

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"She’s never missed a senior night since I’ve been at USF (six-plus seasons) and can call a large majority of our athletes by name. That does not happen at most universities." — USF volleyball coach Courtney Draper

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"Every world-class organization needs strong leadership at the helm to keep the big picture at front, and with TGH and USF, Judy has been a strong advocate for both. She understood the balance and needs of the medical center, the university, our community physicians and the physicians at the university. I’m happy for her. She deserves it." — John Couris, CEO, Tampa General Hospital

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"Her tenure at the university is a remarkable feat and USF benefitted from her influence and longevity. I do wish she would have allowed that same benefit to be reaped at USF St. Petersburg." — Pinellas County Commissioner Charlie Justice

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"She believes in us, and she has been completely transparent in that belief and in her commitment to the community. She has put the University of South Florida on the map and by doing that, she has put Tampa Bay on the map in many respects." — Rick Homans, president and CEO, Tampa Bay Partnership

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"She’s truly a visionary. … I would hope the next leader, once chosen, will continue in her great work and vision and trying to make sure everybody is included. Because education is the new economy; the great thing is that you can get a good education right here in St. Pete without having to go anywhere." — State Rep. Wengay Newton, D-St. Petersburg

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"She never demanded effort from others that did not exceed the extraordinary effort she delivered herself. She makes a team better by her leadership and example. Her impact will influence our trajectory long into the future." — Bob Rohrlack, president and CEO, Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce

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"Thanks to her leadership, USF has become a true economic engine. The incredibly diverse, highly skilled graduates that USF produces are a key reason why companies are flocking here and existing businesses are growing exponentially." — Craig J. Richard, president and CEO, Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp.

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"She has been a terrific champion for the university. Her vision and persistence will be sorely missed. She leaves very big shoes to fill." — Pinellas County Commissioner Janet Long

•• •

"She is a passionate advocate for the university at every level, but her legacy will be most defined by her absolute commitment to the success of her students." — Florida Board of Governors Chair Ned Lautenbach

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"President Genshaft has done a remarkable job developing partnerships with local school districts and making USF a resource for the entire community. I’m grateful to her for championing our collaboration with the College of Education and for the steadfast support she has provided to Pinellas County Schools." — Pinellas County school superintendent Mike Grego

• • •

"She’s leaving a preeminent university with so much to offer to the students who go there, as well as being a part of a system that continues to improve at all levels. There are still things she will have to accomplish, including the consolidation we put into law last year. But she has embraced it." — Senate President-Designate Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton

Times staff writers Sue Carlton, Richard Danielson, Charlie Frago, Caitlin Johnston, Joey Knight and Claire McNeill contributed to this report.

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