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Genshaft takes heat for appointing interim USF-Poly leader

The way that University of South Florida president Judy Genshaft replaced the chancellor of her Lakeland campus has caught the ire of the soon-to-be leader of the Florida Board of Governors.

It was within Genshaft's power to remove the embattled Marshall Goodman from his post, wrote board chair-elect Dean Colson in an email Wednesday, and she also had the authority to choose his successor. But the way she announced the move didn't jibe with the collaboration the board expects, Colson wrote to state university system Chancellor Frank Brogan.

He asked that a conference call be held today to discuss the matter.

Genshaft announced Goodman's removal and the appointment of Lakeland accountant David Touchton to serve as interim campus leader in a news release Tuesday. She explained that she had lost confidence in Goodman's leadership, and that Touchton was the best candidate to move USF Polytechnic toward independence.

Genshaft and Goodman had been on different sides of the months-long debate about whether the school should be allowed to become its own university. Touchton was one among the vocal community members who felt the split was being rushed. The Board of Governors, which oversees the state university system, ultimately decided the school could separate, but only after reaching a number of benchmarks that are expected to take several years.

Part of that agreement was that a board committee would oversee the transition.

Therein lies the trouble with Genshaft's swift change of guard, according to Colson.

"The Board's motion that outlines the steps for the Polytech to achieve independence called for collaboration with the Board of Governors in this process," he wrote, "and I do not see the manner in which the interim Regional Chancellor was appointed as an example of full collaboration."

It's unclear exactly what Genshaft should have done instead.

She did call members of the board before making the final decision, a spokesman confirmed.

In other Board of Governors news, Sen. JD Alexander — the loudest supporter of making USF Poly independent — now has the first two of 11 questions he asked of the board and the universities it oversees a couple weeks ago.

Alexander wanted a full accounting of all university and board revenues, expenditures, fees; and degree cost comparison by university and degree, in addition to job placement results and much more.

In total, that first batch of responses takes up almost 600 pages. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

The other nine answers are due Jan. 2, right when the universities return to business after a break that begins Thursday.

The next batch will give an update on the Board of Governors' New Florida program, explain how funding reductions have led to program reductions, provide a breakdown of all executive travel and all university pay raises, give details of all out-of-state or international programs and more.

Alexander also asks for details of all university donations of $50,000 or more from vendors doing business with the university, and how the universities avoid conflicts of interest in their procurement practices.

It's all leading up to a presentation Alexander wants Brogan to give the Senate Budget Committee, which Alexander chairs, on Jan. 13.

Kim Wilmath can be reached at kwilmath@tampabay.com or 813-226-3337.

Genshaft takes heat for appointing interim USF-Poly leader 12/21/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 21, 2011 9:58pm]
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