SARASOTA — Judy Genshaft, the outgoing University of South Florida president, received a glowing performance review Monday from the school's board of trustees — and a $210,000 stipend to go with it.
Guided by four goals, the trustees evaluated Genshaft's performance in the 2017-18 academic year. They praised her for leading the university to state "preeminence" status, and for guiding the USF System toward consolidation, among other things, before lamenting her retirement set for July.
"This is a well-oiled machine with a great team, and we are losing the captain of our team," trustee Jordan Zimmerman said. "Nothing could make me prouder than having the president we've had."
During her tenure at USF, Genshaft has become one of the highest-paid university presidents in the nation. She collected nearly $1.2 million in pay bonuses and other benefits in 2016-17, ranking seventh for pay in the country, according to data compiled by The Chronicle of Higher Education.
"Anytime you are touching close to a million, you are reaching the ceiling," said Chronicle reporter Dan Bauman, who studies higher education compensation.
Genshaft makes about double what most U.S. university presidents do, he said.
For the last two years, her contract has paid up to $925,000, including $300,000 tied to performance. The agreement gives trustees the power to award up to 70 percent of that amount, which they did in full Monday. Board Chairman Brian Lamb will decide how much of the remaining 30 percent Genshaft will receive in December.
Trustees Hal Mullins and Stephanie Goforth commended Genshaft's work to increase research spending by $63 million last year, to $568 million total.
Goforth likened fundraising to a game of "take-away" that requires USF to be competitive against its peers for those millions.
Genshaft exceeded her fundraising goal of $80 million, securing nearly $86 million in total donations, including 17 gifts worth $1 million or more. Faculty and staff contributed about $7 million, with more members than ever participating, according to evaluation data.
Although he said he had hoped to see more raised to fuel USF's planned football practice center, trustee Les Muma called the president's fundraising efforts "outstanding."
"I hope there's a road map left on the table for the next person," trustee Oscar Horton added.
Genshaft struggled to meet some goals listed under the student performance category of her evaluation, as academic progress fell slightly at USF Tampa and USF Sarasota-Manatee.
"This is where the rubber meets the road," said trustee Byron Shinn. "When we're going to be competing with the (University of Florida) and (Florida State University), this is the one we're going to get beat up on."
Goforth cautioned that the goals set before Genshaft were not small, and more progress was made than lost. They're "stretch goals," trustee Mike Carrere added.
"It really doesn't bother me that a few of those stretch goals weren't met," he said. "Our president, to me, has been successful."
Trustee Nancy Watkins offered a similar sentiment, calling into the meeting, which was held at USF's Sarasota-Manatee campus. "While some of the goals were not met … every time I turn around we are in a better place because of Judy Genshaft," she said.
The trustees also applauded Genshaft's energy, leadership and involvement in the community. And they celebrated USF's financial standing, plus it's new chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the prestigious national honor society.
It all came on top of the years-long push led by Genshaft to achieve preeminence, the newly gained status that puts USF on the same plane with UF and FSU for performance money from the state.
"She is a change agent, she is a believer," Zimmerman said of the president. "I don't know how you replace that."
After hearing the board's review, Genshaft thanked trustees for their continued support of her vision for USF. Then, she thanked everyone else.
"It is truly a privilege to be at the University of South Florida and leading the whole system," she said. "But without great faculty and staff and team leaders … it just wouldn't happen."
Genshaft said the 2017-18 academic year might have been USF's best yet. She said she hopes her replacement keeps up the momentum.
Muma, who serves on a 15-person committee searching for the next president, said the group met for the first time this month to discuss the qualities USF's next leader should have.
Above all else, he said, it should be someone who understands the Association of American Universities, and how eager USF is to join the prestigious group now that it is preeminent.
Secondly, Genshaft's replacement should have a passion for student success and research, which the university system is working hard to expand.
"Those things are part of the fabric of this university that (Genshaft) put in place," Muma said in an interview. "If we don't keep them there, we could come off the tracks."
The committee will visit each campus to hold open meetings in November, Muma said, adding that there will also be an online platform for community members to offer input on the search process. Trustees will get their next update on the search on Dec. 4 and aim choose a final candidate by spring.
"Everybody knows this is a monumental task," Muma told the board. "We want to get someone who can carry what Judy has done into the future."
Contact Megan Reeves at email@example.com. Follow @mareevs.