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Barbs traded over Genshaft's handling of USF-Poly handling | News

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Barbs traded over Genshaft's handling of USF-Poly handling
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TAMPA, Florida - USF President Judy Genshaft was criticized in an emergency conference call by several members of Florida's Board of Governors (BOG) Thursday for her handling of the USF-Polytechnic campus.

Three members said there wasn't enough transparency with Genshaft's decision to dismiss USF-Poly Chancellor Marshall Goodman on Tuesday.  He was replaced with interim chancellor David Touchton, one of the biggest critics of Goodman's controversial USF-Poly independence plan.

The board approved a series of benchmarks in November in order for the polytechnic to split from USF and become the state's 13th university.  It also formed a committee to help in the several-year-long transition, but expressed concern the committee wasn't consulted in Genshaft's decision.

"President Genshaft," said governor Norman Tripp, "has re-defined the word 'collaboration,' and it is now spelled V-I-N-D-I-C-A-T-I-O-N."

"She's the one who hired him in the first place," Tripp continued.  "When did he fall off a cliff and become somebody so bad that he couldn't do what she hired him originally to do?

"At the end of the day...it was going to be her decision. But what she really said to us was, 'It's my decision, but I don't care what you think anyway.'"

The board members acknowledged it was within Genshaft's authority to dismiss an employee of the USF university system, leading State Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, to issue a statement criticizing their motives.

"Nowhere (in state statutes) does it give the BOG permission to micromanage any Florida state university, especially in area of hiring and firing," Fasano wrote of FSS 20.155.

Fasano had been critical of the independence push from Goodman and State Sen. J.D. Alexander, R-Lake Wales.  In November, the 10 News Investigators documented Alexander's influence in the BOG's decision.

"This so-called special meeting was called only because of political pressure by a certain state senator," Fasano said, implicating Alexander.  "It's time for the BOG to focus in on what they were created to do and tend to their business and not the day-to-day operations of our local state university."

During the conference call, Touchton and Genshaft assured the board their focus is meeting the benchmarks and moving the campus toward independence.  Genshaft also explained that she dismissed Goodman swiftly during the winter break because it reduces disruption to students and faculty, who start a new semester Jan. 3.

"We had a situation, where we had - since November - very public...unhappiness and discontent," Genshaft said, pointing to the "no confidence" vote taken by USF-Poly faculty.  "In 35 years, at many different universities, I have never, ever been a part of any organization that has had a 'no confidence' vote."

Previous USF-Poly Coverage:
11/20/11 - Genshaft dismisses USF-Poly chancellor
11/16/11 - Goodman dismisses state senators' audit request
11/10/11 - BOG grants USF-Poly conditional independence
11/7/11 - USF-Poly spends thousands on Star Wars statues
11/3/11J.D. Alexander's bully pulpit
10/31/11 - Polk leaders vote for USF-Poly independence

Connect with 10 News Investigator Noah Pransky on Facebook at www.facebook.com/noahpransky or Twitter at www.twitter.com/noahpransky.  Send your story tips to noah@wtsp.com.

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