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USF St. Petersburg leader responds to criticism of hurricane decisions

Former USFSP regional chancellor Sophia Wisniewska in 2013
Former USFSP regional chancellor Sophia Wisniewska in 2013
Published Sep. 19, 2017

ST. PETERSBURG — The former leader of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, who resigned Monday amid internal criticism of her handling of Hurricane Irma, is defending her decisions during the storm.

"I strongly reject any question of my leadership during Irma and my leadership during my tenure at USFSP," former regional chancellor Sophia Wisniewska wrote in a text message to a Tampa Bay Times reporter Monday night. "Certainly, I did nothing to warrant firing for cause. However, I do realize that President Genshaft has the right to choose another Chancellor, and she did."

Wisniewska rejected the university's characterization of her decision-making, referring to "a very significant difference of opinion on how events unfolded."

READ: Sophia Wisniewska's letter to USF in response to dismissal

She said she leaves USFSP proud of her ties to the community, as well as her work developing new programs, fundraising, boosting rankings and beautifying the waterfront campus.

"I resigned this evening without hard feelings and with optimism for the future," she wrote. "My only regret is that I was unable to achieve all of our goals for USFSP."