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Judy Genshaft to Announce Retirement Tomorrow

The only President USF has known this century will unveil her exit plan from the school at 2 p.m.

I can confirm the reports of Peter Schorsch of that USF President Judy Genshaft will announce her retirement tomorrow.

It is also likely the university will use a search firm in finding her replacement.

During her 18 years in office, Genshaft has led a university that has exploded in growth and academic profile. The claiming of preeminent status from the Florida Legislature, and the additional revenue and status it conferred, was made official in July of this year. It put USF in the same funding pools as the University of Florida and Florida State. Also under her leadership USF increased its endowment to $442 million (light years ahead of what was a peer school in Orlando), and changed the infrastructure of a campus devoid of natural features to one that is more modern and aspirational.

The university is also in a position where the American Association of Universities, who had representatives on campus recently, would be right to consider USF for membership soon. Those 62 schools are the best research institutions in the country, and adding that brand would be a testament to the tremendous growth of the school academically.

There were also controversies: the severing, and then reuniting, of branch campuses in Sarasota and St. Petersburg, with the heaviness of her hand behind the scenes in the legislative process always questioned. The long list of chancellors of the St. Petersburg moved along by “the wrath of Judy,” something feared by many administrators across campuses. Senior staff positions that were filled with great fanfare but left with nary a sound. The raising of an announced $1 billion via the Unstoppable campaign, with whispers about the accounting methods used to reach that figure. The firing of professor Sami Al-Arian because of his alleged ties to Hamas in the wake of the September 11th attacks.

From an athletics perspective, she’ll be remembered for helping USF enter the highest echelons of college athletics with Big East membership, as well as overseeing the fall of the Bulls from the Power Five into the American Athletic Conference. She served as chair of the NCAA Board of Directors from 2010-12, but despite her position failed in keeping the Bulls from the Purgatory of the Group of Five.

She also fired the only football coach USF had ever known in Jim Leavitt in 2010, which divides fans and former players about her decision to this day. The university report indicated Leavitt lied to those questioning him and attempted to obstruct the investigation, and eventually USF and Leavitt settled out of court.

Genshaft fired athletic director Paul Griffin in the midst of a racism scandal with the women’s basketball program in 2001, and hired Lee Roy Selmon, Doug Woolard, Mark Harlan, and Michael Kelly as athletic directors. Her attendance at every USF sport has been compulsory during her entire tenure, with pom-poms in hand while wearing green and gold at everything from football games to volleyball matches.

While some university presidents tolerate intercollegiate athletics, Genshaft always publicly embraced the Bulls and what they could become. She also ensured many potential Bulls that were partial or non-qualifiers never made it to campus due to admissions policies for student-athletes that were more restrictive than peer schools. It helped uphold the academic mission of the institution, but also hurt on the fields and courts in competition.

More to come on this story as it develops.