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From parking problems to the new logo, USF students weigh in on search for next president

"While the goals of the university are important, please remember the students are the most important part," one respondent wrote.
USF System President Judy Genshaft | Times files
Published Nov. 28, 2018
Updated Nov. 29, 2018

Results of an online survey released by the University of South Florida Wednesday show students have a lot to say about what kind of person should replace outgoing president Judy Genshaft.

The survey's purpose was to collect input from various members of the USF community as a search committee works to find Genshaft's replacement by spring, ahead of her July 1 retirement.

Using the results, along with other information gathered at recent public meetings, the committee on Thursday will finalize a job description for the president's post. It will be used in a national search for Genshaft's successor.

RELATED: Who should be USF's next president? 'It's going to take a multifaceted individual.'

USF invited more than 60,000 people to take the survey, the university said. Of the 772 anonymous responses, 245 came from undergraduate students.

Their ideas were mixed, but many wondered whether the voices of students and others are really heard by university leadership.

"There are many things that USF has done without taking into consideration how the students, alumni and faculty feel about it," one respondent wrote.

Another added that the next president should have "understanding about who we are as students and what we face and what we want … We have a huge impact and we want our voice heard."

Several lamented parking problems on USF's Tampa campus and the university's newly unveiled academic logo, a move by Genshaft that has garnered considerable negative feedback.

RELATED: We get it, USF video says. 'Not everyone loves' the new bull logo.

"The new logo is disgusting," one respondent wrote. "I really hope USF can turn itself around."

While some praised Genshaft, others said they hope the next president takes a smaller salary. She has been paid nearly $1 million annually for the last two years.

Some students urged the committee to pick someone committed to funding a football stadium at USF. Others said the opposite, pointing to the need for financial support in science labs and art programs.

There is "too much focus on sports and not enough on making sure that the sciences have working equipment," one respondent wrote. Another said: "Football stadiums shouldn't be a priority while the Art building keeps finding asbestos and parking is so nightmarish."

Students called for a president that values diversity and can relate to members of USF's mixed student body, even as the university celebrates its newly gained and hard-won "preeminent" designation from the state.

"While the goals of the university are important, please remember the students are the most important part," one respondent wrote. "We are not just assets. We are people."

The search committee will review students responses, as well as those from alumni, faculty, staff, graduate students and community members, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday at USF Tampa's Marshall Student Center, 4103 Cedar Circle.

A live stream of the meeting can be viewed here.

Contact Megan Reeves at mreeves@tampabay.com. Follow @mareevs.

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