TAMPA — University of South Florida students may soon have a new benefactor as they study abroad: USF president Judy Genshaft.
Genshaft and her husband, Steven Greenbaum, announced Friday they will donate $1 million to USF over the next five years for scholarships designed to aid students studying in other countries. The gift is eligible for matching state funds, ultimately creating a $1.75 million endowment for the scholarships.
The aid will apply to any USF-sanctioned program, from winter-break projects in the Dominican Republic to semesters abroad in China. The school will award the scholarships largely based on student essays, aiming to aid those who otherwise would not be able to study abroad because of the cost.
Genshaft told a USF audience Friday morning that experience abroad is essential to a well-rounded education, particularly in today's world.
"Increasingly, employers tell us that they want to hire graduates that are prepared to work in the global marketplace," she said. "It is our duty to prepare students to be competitive and successful in the globalized future."
Amanda Maurer, director of USF education abroad, said the donation comes at a critical time. This summer, her office has less than $20,000 to offer for scholarships.
Danish Ahmad, 27, a fourth-year USF medical student, said one of those previous scholarships enabled him to study in India. But competition for the scholarship was fierce, he said, so the president's gift will open the world to many more students.
"Just about everyone in the medical school wants to go abroad at some point, and the biggest barrier for them to travel abroad is the expenses," he said. "We can't work jobs while we're here and the majority of our money and funding for med school itself comes from loans."
USF spokeswoman Vickie Chachere said the endowment's interest will fund the scholarships for decades. "Twenty-five years from now kids will still be traveling on the proceeds from this money," she said.
In December, USF awarded Genshaft with a new five-year contract, under which she will earn $470,00 per year. With bonuses, her yearly salary can increase to $745,000. She also sits on the board of Fresh Mark, a meat supplier her family operates in Ohio. Greenbaum is a freelance marketing consultant.
Genshaft has been USF president since 2000. Before Friday's announcement, Genshaft and Greenbaum had donated more than $400,000 to the school, according to USF officials.
Jack Nicas can be reached at (813) 226-3401 or email@example.com.