Friday, November 16, 2018
Public safety

Carlton: Pam Iorio, USF’s next president? Politics say no but who knows

Here’s an interesting idea that probably won’t happen: Former Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio gets tapped to be the next president of the University of South Florida.

This week came the (somewhat) surprising news that USF president Judy Genshaft will retire next summer after 18 bright and burgeoning years running a public university with 50,000 students across three campuses.

(This was only somewhat surprising because 18 years is eons for a university president, even though Genshaft showed zero signs of slowing down.)

USF is a point of pride in these parts, and who takes the baton from Genshaft matters greatly. Speculation on who gets the nod — distinguished academic? well-connected politician? — has commenced.

Someone with energy and vision, local leaders said this week. Someone who understands big organizations. Someone with political chops.

So what about Iorio — the popular, pragmatic politician who left office in 2011 with an approval rating of more than 80 percent, bookish and wonkish and the current president and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, the headquarters of which she got relocated to Tampa?

Interesting historical note: USF is the reason Iorio is here.

Her late father John Iorio brought the family to Tampa in 1963 when he became an English professor at USF, where he taught for three decades. His daughter would get her master’s degree in history at USF.

At the age of 26, she was elected to the Hillsborough County Commission. She served as the supervisor of elections, then was elected mayor. She wrote a book on leadership. Her mother, husband and daughter all have degrees from USF — not a qualification to run the place, but a connection to it.

So why might Iorio not be a contender, assuming she was interested?

In Florida, at least, such selections are often colored by politics.

Remember the arguments about whether former House Speaker John Thrasher was suitable for the top spot at Florida State University? Or former Lt. Gov. Frank Brogan at Florida Atlantic? Or former Jacksonville Mayor John Delaney at the University of North Florida? All Republicans, by the way, who all got the job.

Notably, whoever is selected to replace Genshaft must be confirmed by the Florida Board of Governors, which runs the state university system. Republican Gov. Rick Scott appoints the vast majority of that board.

Iorio, 59, is a definite Democrat.

That said, the November winner of the suddenly very interesting Florida governor’s race — surprise Democrat Andrew Gillum or Republican Ron DeSantis — surely will have an impact.

The person picked to run USF needs to be particularly nimble in Tallahassee, and Iorio is not a former legislator. She doesn’t have a Ph.D., which will not warm the hearts of academics looking for one of their own in USF’s presidential suite.

But couldn’t she be pretty good at it anyway?

When I ask Iorio, her answer is measured and typically her. "I have a great love for USF and will always do what I can to help it prosper," she said. But also: "I am committed to Big Brothers Big Sisters and have no plans to seek other opportunities."

Though sometimes opportunity comes knocking.

Comments
Two SUVs collide in Pasco intersection, injuring eight people

Two SUVs collide in Pasco intersection, injuring eight people

They were all riding in the vehicles that crashed at State Road 52 and Hayes Road.
Updated: 5 hours ago
Animal activist who threw fisherman's catch back in the water on trial in Clearwater Friday

Animal activist who threw fisherman's catch back in the water on trial in Clearwater Friday

Michael Leaming threw a fisherman's catch back in the water to “save it,” went viral with millions of views, and now faces trial for what he did.
Updated: 8 hours ago

Pasco deputies: Stop. Driving. By. Stopped. School. Buses.

Deputies started monitoring school bus stops on U.S. 19 after the Sheriff’s Office heard complaints that drivers aren’t stopping.
Updated: 11 hours ago
Police: French bulldog puppy, worth thousands, fraudulently purchased at Largo pet store

Police: French bulldog puppy, worth thousands, fraudulently purchased at Largo pet store

Largo police are searching for a person they say stole a French bulldog puppy from a puppy store in Largo. Police are searching Hillsborough County, where the suspect is said to reside.
Updated: 11 hours ago
Police release name of man accused of leading officers on car chase that ended in crash

Police release name of man accused of leading officers on car chase that ended in crash

Reginald Mosley, 31, is charged with fleeing from police and attempted carjacking, among other crimes. A passenger in the car he was driving is still at large.
Published: 11/15/18
Charges are being filed against the homeless vet and couple who raised $400,000 for him online

Charges are being filed against the homeless vet and couple who raised $400,000 for him online

The heart warming story of a homeless veteran who saved a woman was all a scheme to make money, prosecutors in New Jersey say.
Published: 11/15/18
Wesley Chapel baby dies after falling into a pool, authorities say

Wesley Chapel baby dies after falling into a pool, authorities say

Masir White, who was 10 months old, died at the hospital that night, according to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office.
Published: 11/15/18
Note in accused killer's car led authorities to Hernando park ranger's body

Note in accused killer's car led authorities to Hernando park ranger's body

Jeffrey Morrison told authorities in June that he'd killed his girlfriend, Mitzi Babb. When they searched his car, they found a message on a piece of cardboard that led them to a river.
Published: 11/15/18
The Daystarter: The Rays’ Blake Snell takes the Cy Young; Red Tide is stalling the growth of Pinellas tourism; and catch up on all the latest Florida recount news.

The Daystarter: The Rays’ Blake Snell takes the Cy Young; Red Tide is stalling the growth of Pinellas tourism; and catch up on all the latest Florida recount news.

The Daystarter: What’s it like to be called up the NHL; this father had a foreboding sense about his son; check out all the Tampa Bay Times’ podcasts.
Published: 11/15/18
‘Zack’ Chronister, son of Hillsborough’s sheriff, gets prison time for knife attack

‘Zack’ Chronister, son of Hillsborough’s sheriff, gets prison time for knife attack

A circuit judge sentenced George Zachary Chronister to 22 months in prison for stabbing and slashing the face of another man during a 2017 fight.
Published: 11/14/18
Updated: 11/15/18