USF President Judy Genshaft talks budget deal with 10 News

11:49 PM, Mar 5, 2012   |    comments
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TAMPA, Fla. - On the day news spread of additional funding resorations to USF in the 2012-2013 state budget, Judy Genshaft relishes the role she took.

Amid criticisms and name-calling, Genshaft says she took the high road, avoiding the politics and mud-slinging that permeated the budget conversation.

"That's not where I am, and that's not where I go," USF's president said, adding that she focused on the end game.  "I want the best for the University of South Florida system. That's what I fight for."

State Senate Budget Chairman JD Alexander, R-Lake Wales, criticized Genshaft personally for her handling of USF's branch campus in Polk County. Alexander is also pushing for the campus, USF Polytechnic, to immediately break off the USF system.

On Monday, House and Senate leaders announced a deal that will increase USF's funding next year for its pharmacy school from $3 million to $6 million.  An earmark for a new $6.8 million heart institute was also inserted in budget conference.

The final budget deal also cements $16 million in funds for USF to absorb faculty and students from USF Poly.  Previously, Alexander said the school only needed $10 million, but he'd be willing to go up to $16 million if they could prove a need.

10 News spent part of Monday with Genshaft and you can see her discuss the budget dealings, possible tuition raises, and her cult-like following among USF students on 10 News at 11 p.m.

Genshaft also sent the following letter to the USF community today:

"During the past month we have seen a profound outpouring of support for the University of South Florida and the USF System. We have argued for fairness in the state budget of Florida, and we have achieved that because of your help.

"With emails, calls and letters, our friends have accomplished much. USF has remained strong. 

"Today, the Florida House and Senate have agreed on the state budget. After a "cooling off" period, the Florida Legislature is expected to vote by Friday and send that budget to Gov. Rick Scott for his signature. These agreements are contingent on the governor's approval. 

"The most important elements from today: 

- We now anticipate full funding of $6 million for our new College of Pharmacy.

- We expect financial help with any transition to an independent Polytechnic University -- USF Polytechnic's students would be able to graduate from USF under an orderly 5-year transition plan.  

- We pushed for equitable funding, and while there will be significant cuts to all of Florida's universities, those cuts will be made equitably.

"My concern throughout this process has been the treatment of our students, faculty and staff. We fought to ensure that our students would be cared for. I believe today's agreement does that.

"In addition, we have received support to launch a heart institute at USF Health, an innovative and collaborative initiative to raise the level of health care in the region.

"My sincere thanks go to House Speaker-Designate Will Weatherford, Senators Jim Norman, Arthenia Joyner, and Jack Latvala, and the entire Tampa Bay legislative delegation, from all 8 counties, for fighting to ensure that the USF System was treated fairly. Our thanks to House member Seth McKeel, for looking out for our students at USF Polytechnic and allowing them to remain in Lakeland to finish their USF degrees.

"And to each of you, thank you again for your voices. All of you have made it possible for the USF System, and all of our students and employees, to continue to achieve greatness and to continue to pursue our goals. You made a huge difference."

Previous USF Coverage:
3/1/12 - USF contends reserves are spoken for
2/28/12 - Genshaft told Poly accredidation will take 2-4 years
2/27/12 - Alexander actions have some asking why BOG exists
2/27/12 - USF students continue #SaveUSF campaign
2/22/12 -
JD Alexander: from USF cheerleader to USF critic
2/22/12 - Polk Commission upset about being kept in dark
2/21/12 - USF-Poly students fear split
2/20/12 -
Genshaft, Alexander meeting "productive" but secretive
2/20/12 - College student warned of Alexander revenge
2/17/12 - Democrats propose alternative to college cuts
2/16/12 - Gov. Scott tells 10 News he opposes unfair cuts
2/15/12 - Budget cuts live, but ''divorce settlement'' brokered
2/14/12 - 10 News leading charge to #SaveUSF
2/14/12 - High school students impacted by USF attacks
2/14/12 - USF fears "devastating" 58% budget cuts
2/8/12 - JD Alexander pushes "backdoor" path for USF-Poly independence
12/22/11 - Barbs traded over Genshaft's handling of USF-Poly handling
12/20/11 - Genshaft dismisses USF-Poly chancellor
11/10/11 - BOG grants USF-Poly conditional independence
11/7/11 - USF-Poly spends thousands on Star Wars statues
11/3/11 - JD Alexander's bully pulpit

Find 10 News Investigator Noah Pransky on Facebook or follow his updates on Twitter. Send your story tips to noah@wtsp.com

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