Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Senators Dockery and Fasano call for audit of USF Poly

TAMPA — Two state senators are asking for an audit of University of South Florida Polytechnic expenditures following accusations that the school's leader is mismanaging funds and reports about plans to produce a $500,000 promotional video.

Senators Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, and Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, who oppose a push to make the Lakeland school an independent university, called for the review in a letter sent Thursday to USF president Judy Genshaft.

As of late Thursday, Genshaft had not responded.

The call comes just three weeks before the board that oversees the university system will discuss a possible USF Poly split from the Tampa campus.

Included in the senators' letter is an unsigned message listing allegations against USF Poly chancellor Marshall Goodman, as well as a copy of a St. Petersburg Times article that details the pricey video plans. The message says it is from students at the school.

"We sincerely urge that you fully investigate USF Polytechnic expenditures to determine whether the accusations of the students are valid," the senators wrote, "and whether or not Dr. Goodman is using good judgment in utilizing taxpayer dollars to produce a half-million-dollar video."

Goodman did not respond to a request for comments.

The accusations made in the unsigned message are mostly unsubstantiated rumors — Goodman spending school funds on "personal follies," faculty whispering about threats if they speak out, a desire of Goodman and powerful Sen. J.D. Alexander "to create their own legacy."

But at least one checks out: Goodman's son, Robert, is employed by USF Poly to run the school's business incubator program, a hire USF Poly defends.

Dockery said it was the combination of the anonymous plea for help, the lack of answers from Goodman about costs of independence and other information trickling in that prompted the audit request.

Fasano said the lawmakers are simply seeking transparency.

"This is not a witch hunt," Fasano said. "We just want to make sure tax dollars were spent appropriately. … We are struggling in this state now, economically."

The move highlights a shift in the independence conversation, which was sparked a few months ago by a group of Polk County leaders including Alexander.

Until recently, most opposition was muted. Dockery and Fasano, who have been warning against a hasty decision from the start, note that separation is now "coming under intense fire from multiple directions."

Earlier this month, Gene Engle, the chairman of USF Poly's board and a member of the USF Board of Trustees, publicly cautioned against the move.

A couple of weeks ago, the USF Board of Trustees said the university wants to be reimbursed for its investments in the Lakeland campus if it does split off.

And as an example in their letter to Genshaft, Dockery and Fasano pointed to former Sen. Rick Dantzler, a Winter Haven lawyer who was among the first to publicly reconsider his initial endorsement of USF Poly's independence.

"The idea of Polk County having its own state university appealed to my sense of civic pride, but I made a mistake," Dantzler told the Times. "I let my heart overload my brain."

Kim Wilmath can be reached at or (813) 226-3337.

Senators Dockery and Fasano call for audit of USF Poly 10/20/11 [Last modified: Friday, October 21, 2011 12:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trump controversies continue to take toll on Mar-a-Lago


    President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club continues to lose business in light of his controversial remarks on race and violence.

  2. Taylor Swift ends intrigue, announces new album in November


    Yes, Taylor Swift fans, Wednesday was a lucky one for you.

    This cover image released by Big Machine shows art for her upcoming album, "reputation," expected Nov. 10.
  3. Taking heat from some for Charlottesville remarks, Rubio denounces the 'other side'


    Sen. Marco Rubio, who has come under fire for not denouncing the “Antifa,” did so in a speech last night in Florida, bemoaning people “on the other side of the political spectrum who …

    Marco Rubio on the campaign trail in 2015
  4. How to make a Strawberry Banana Smoothie


    Don't enjoy breakfast but need to get something in your stomach? Cranky around 3 p.m. and need a jolt of energy? Have trouble getting your daily recommended fruit servings? This smoothie is the cure for all of that and more. It's become my morning go-to. The secret ingredient here is kefir, a probiotic product that's …

    Strawberry Banana Smoothie. Photo by Michelle Stark, Times food editor.