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USF board mulls raise for Genshaft

(ran SS edition of METRO & STATE)

With university presidents around the state getting eyebrow-raising pay increases, the University of South Florida board of trustees is preparing to offer president Judy Genshaft a significant salary boost.

How much is unclear, but it could be in the $50,000 range. That is expected to be resolved next month.

On Thursday, the trustees heard from a national consultant who said Genshaft's pay is "way, way underneath the market."

Several trustees agreed.

"I believe she is not only one of the best presidents in the state, but in the nation," said trustee Steve Burton. He said he would wait to see what is recommended by a committee studying the issue, and then "if it's not high enough, then I'll speak up."

Board chairman Dick Beard said he has not decided how much Genshaft should be paid, but said: "I'd be disappointed if it was less than $285,000."

Genshaft has been at USF for two years and makes $237,800 annually.

Beard's figure is in the ballpark of what suddenly seems to be the going rate for university presidents in Florida. Florida State University and Florida International University pay their presidents about that amount. Florida A&M, a much smaller institution, pays its new president $275,000. Those figures include only the salary. Many presidents also get a housing allowance and other perks.

Board members didn't formally evaluate Genshaft on Thursday during their meeting at the Lakeland campus. But they started plans to do so and to address her salary at their meeting next month.

They think she has done a tremendous job under tremendous pressure.

"It has been a very tough time, and she has handled it very well," said Ann Duncan. She cited Genshaft's handling of the St. Petersburg campus' move toward greater autonomy, which has been a controversy for years but appears nearly resolved.

Genshaft also has had to contend with lawsuits over alleged racism in the USF women's basketball program. Her biggest challenge has drawn national attention as an academic freedom issue: the proposed firing of professor Sami Al-Arian, who has been accused of having ties to terrorists.

Consultant Raymond Cotton, hired by board chairman Beard, said that if USF were looking to hire a new president it might have to offer a compensation package in the $500,000 range, including salary and perks. To back that up, he cited Florida Atlantic University, which announced this week that the next president could be paid more than any university chief in the state. Former FAU president Anthony J. Catanese made $191,500 annually. His successor could get a salary of $1.85-million over five years, plus another $750,000 in benefits and perks.