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USF president Genshaft could earn $768,500 after trustees approve pay raise

TAMPA —The University of South Florida’s longest-serving president secured at least one more year at the helm Thursday as well as a substantial pay raise.

The USF Board of Trustees voted unanimously to increase president Judy Genshaft’s base salary 5 percent to $493,500, and with a performance-based stipend of up to $275,000 she could earn a total $768,500.

Genshaft has a history of meeting performance goals, approved by the board of trustees, and in December she earned a full $175,000 bonus. She’s also received $100,000 retention bonuses every year under her previous contract, but that bonus will end under the new agreement. Her deferred compensation will grow from $56,400 to $98,700.

Thursday, Genshaft said she doesn’t plan to leave USF any time soon.

“I would have signed a five year contract if that was an option,” Genshaft said. “USF is in my DNA.”

Her new one-year contract runs from July 1 to June 30, 2017, and follows three five-year deals Genshaft has obtained since starting at USF in 2000. The change to a yearly contract came at the behest of the state’s Board of Governors, which said in 2015 it wouldn’t be “favorably disposed” to approve new president contracts of more than a year, said Hal Mullis, USF trustees chairman.

“We can agree or disagree with the sense of that guidance,” Mullis said.

The Board of Governors has given its preliminary approval to Genshaft’s new contract, Mullis said. Only $200,000 of Genshaft’s salary will come from state funding — the legal limit — and the rest from other private revenue sources, including money from the USF Foundation.

With about 32 percent of her salary “at-risk” depending on her performance, though, trustee John Ramil praised the contract and Genshaft as fiscally conservative. Typically, university presidents put about 10 percent of their contract “at-risk,” he said. Her “mid to high” salary is right where it should be, he said, reflected in her willingness to enter the contract before her new performance goals have even been set.

Genshaft hasn’t asked for or received a pay increase since she accepted her five-year contract in 2011.

“This is a performance based contract, which is what we should have, what every shareholder in every company would want to have,” said Ramil, CEO and president of TECO Energy. “She’s got a lot of trust in us.”

A December Chronicle of Higher Education study found Genshaft was the 12th highest-paid public university president in the nation in 2014. She is the second-highest paid in Florida behind University of Florida President W. Kent Fuchs, who can make more than $1 million a year.

In determining Genshaft’s salary, university officials looked closely at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, where the president can make up to $735,153, and Florida International University in Miami, where the president can make $640,212 annually.

Other benefits in Genshaft’s contract include an automobile stipend of $1,000 a month to cover expenses and insurance, membership fees at the Tampa Palms Country Club and the University Club, and “university-related entertainment and travel.”

Trustee Scott Hopes said he would like to see the group start working on Genshaft’s next contract earlier in the year and hopes to see more trustees involved in the process.

“We’ve had no discussion up until today as a body about moving forward with the president, and I had asked over a year ago,” Hopes said.

Trustees lauded Genshaft’s accomplishments over her tenure. From Genshaft’s first year on the job in 2000 to 2015, enrollment increased from 35,700 students to 48,793 students and the system-wide graduation rate from 46 percent to 66 percent.

“She’s not complacent, she’s not coasting, she’s not in the twilight of her path here and we see only great things ahead of us,” trustee Byron Shinn said.

Genshaft has met all 24 job requirements listed in her contract, trustees said. She surpassed her 2015 goal of raising $115 million in total gifts and commitments to the university by raising more than $130 million. When she started, USF brought in about $45 million in annual donations.

Genshaft’s fundraising efforts for the university have grown its endowment from $187 million to $420 million and the USF System budget from $873 million to $1.8 billion during her tenure. The university’s economic impact has grown to $4.4 billion for the Tampa Bay area, and more than $1 billion has been invested in construction across the university system.

Jozef Gherman, The USF trustees’ student member a senior at USF St. Petersburg, praised Genshaft for connecting with students, from cheering on athletics teams to doing a dance move caught on film that went “viral” among students.

“Thank you, President Genshaft, for always having the students in your heart and being one of our biggest allies,” Gherman said. “We do love you.”

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