LAKELAND — After saying last week that she wasn't sure the University of South Florida would be able to keep all the employees from USF Polytechnic past July, president Judy Genshaft now vows there will be no layoffs for at least a year beyond that point.
Genshaft delivered the message Monday, flanked by state Rep. Seth McKeel, who helped craft the bill that creates the state's 12th public university this summer. McKeel, R-Lakeland, said he wanted to clarify the situation after hearing about Genshaft's message last week.
Starting on July 1, USF Poly will cease to exist and Florida Polytechnic will launch with all of the former branch campus' resources. USF, in turn, will get $10 million to keep paying faculty to continue teaching current students in Lakeland until they graduate. No new students will be accepted.
Though Genshaft previously said USF Poly's payroll was closer to $18 million, McKeel pointed out at a news conference Monday that the Florida Poly legislation includes language that requires the new university to cover any additional costs incurred by USF during the teach-out.
Genshaft said any staff that aren't needed as USF Poly starts closing down, such as those in the admissions office, for instance, would be welcomed at the main USF Tampa campus.
Meanwhile, the Florida Board of Governors, which oversees the state university system, could begin taking applications for membership on the Florida Polytechnic board of trustees as early as this week, a spokeswoman said.
The board appoints five members to each of the state's public universities' 13-member governing boards, and the governor appoints six more for staggered five-year terms. The two remaining seats are taken by universities' student body presidents and chairmen of their respective faculty senates or equivalents.
The call for applications typically remains open for 30 days.
Still, even after that board is set up, the new university won't be able to open its doors overnight, university system Chancellor Frank Brogan said Monday.
"I'm not sure yet that people even understand the significance of this change," Brogan told Board of Governors staff members, as they prepared for an upcoming meeting on the Poly transition plan. "Transition is not tossing someone the keys on June 30 as the other party walks out the door."
Information from the Ledger, of Lakeland, was used in this report. Kim Wilmath can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813)226-3337.