Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Education

USF President Judy Genshaft gets $166,250 performance bonus

TAMPA — Judy Genshaft will finish her 13th year as president of the University of South Florida with a healthy bonus: $166,250.

The USF Board of Trustees voted Thursday to give Genshaft the stipend. While that's an eye-popping number to the average person, it is not an unusual sum for the president of a big university in today's market. The money is one slice of Genshaft's contract, which was built with checks and balances. She can earn up to $175,000 extra a year, but she has to perform well to get it.

"We made sure a fair amount of compensation in the case of our president was, for lack of a better term, at risk," USF trustee Brian Lamb said of the contract's structure.

Genshaft's base salary is $470,000, $200,000 from state funds and the rest from the USF Foundation, a nonprofit entity that handles private gifts. In addition, 12 percent of her salary is set aside each year in an annuity she can access when she retires. She also gets an annual retention stipend of $100,000 if she completes her contract through June 2016, plus a car and a house on campus.

Until 2011, Genshaft's performance stipend was capped at $100,000. That year, her base pay was increased by $75,000 and the stipend ceiling was raised to $175,000. Since the contract was redrawn, she didn't get a stipend that year. In 2012, her stipend was the same as this year's.

Genshaft ranked 22nd on a recent list of the highest paid public university leaders complied by the Chronicle of Higher Education. The publication found that four public university presidents earned more than $1 million in the 2011-12 school year. Each university has different methods of determining pay, but many include performance bonuses.

Here's how it works at USF:

Each year, Genshaft makes a list of goals for the university. At the end of the year, the board evaluates how she did. Some of it is about numbers. Some of it is bigger picture.

For the 2012-13 school year, Genshaft wanted to bump up freshman retention, six-year graduation rates, average SAT scores, plus the number of doctorate degrees and postdoctoral appointees. She wanted to keep research spending high, raise money and focus on the budget. She wanted to increase alumni membership, make strides for USF Health and add out-of-state and international students.

It was a banner year for the school in many of those areas.

USF moved up to number 43 for research spending in the federal government's rankings of public and private colleges nationwide, and reached a new research spending record of $413.6 million.

The university raked in $621 million during its Unstoppable Campaign — including $1 million from Genshaft and her husband, Steven Greenbaum. At a glittering gala in November, university officials announced phase two of the campaign, with a new fundraising goal of $1 billion.

Out-of-state and international students increased by almost 20 percent. The USF Alumni Association had its most successful year of membership to date.

The school met Genshaft's goal for freshmen retention and SAT scores at USF in Tampa, but not at USF St. Petersburg. Both campuses met the six-year graduation rate goal. The goal for doctorate degrees was met, but the postdoctoral appointments fell short of the goal by nine.

A committee reviewed Genshaft's evaluation and recommended she get $122,500. It was up to board chair John Ramil to determine the remaining amount. Ramil said he talked to students, faculty and elected leaders about Genshaft.

"Students indicate that the president has been a tireless and bold leader," Ramil said. "She is seen as genuine and accessible and can be seen at just about every USF event."

Editorial writers at USF's student newspaper, The Oracle, applied some criticism leading up to the vote. They wrote: "It's not that she doesn't deserve gratitude for her performance, and though the money comes from private funds, realistically it can be better spent almost anywhere else." Her salary, they wrote, "could easily support a handful of small middle-class families."

The bonus comes amid some lean times for USF and Florida's other public universities, which have lost significant funding over the past six years. This year, lawmakers restored $300 million in cuts to the state university system — a welcome development at USF, where prolonged state cuts totaled more than $120 million. USF also lost $30 million in cash reserves when what is now Florida Polytechnic was severed from USF.

Amid budget restructuring, Genshaft trimmed some areas but also created an $8 million pool for staff and faculty merit raises. The university has not yet determined how that money will be distributed.

Genshaft submitted a new set of goals, including more strides in fundraising, research and student success. She also plans to hire someone to lead USF Health.

"I am so pleased," she told trustees after Thursday's vote, thanking them along with faculty, administrators and staff.

"We were all working for one cause, and that is to make USF better and better," she said.

Stephanie Hayes can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3394.

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