A True Force of Nature
A retrospective of President Judy Genshaft’s 19 years of leadership
“After years – decades – of working to raise the profile of our research, student success, teaching and community impact, we are making major strides across every unit, in every measure.”
– USF System President Judy Genshaft, Fall Address 2018
By Tom Woolf | USF News
Stories abound about the positive impact USF System President Judy Genshaft has had over the past 19 years – at the university, throughout the community, nationally … even on a mountaintop thousands of miles from the Tampa Bay region.
The mountaintop anecdote stems from a recent trip to Peru to visit a USF partner institution. Here is how Moez Limayem, the dean of the Muma College of Business, describes the visit:
“Each year, Judy accompanies the provost, myself and other Muma College of Business staff to attend graduation ceremonies for students at our partner institution, the Universidad San Ignacio de Loyola in Lima, Peru. Recently, some of us decided to hike around Machu Picchu [mountaintop icon of Inca civilization, 7,970 feet above sea level]. Well, while we huffed and puffed making that steep climb, we looked up to see Judy way ahead of us on the trail, seemingly unfazed by the altitude or the exertion, urging us on. And none of us was surprised at this. That’s just who she is.”
Constantly reaching for new heights. Leading by example. Inspiring others. These are just a few of the traits that have marked Dr. Genshaft’s approach to guiding the university. When she became president in 2000, USF was a highly regarded regional institution. But the new president was determined to drive the university to greater heights, a journey that involved faculty, staff, students, alumni and the community working together to build a premier national research institution.
As she prepares to step down on July 1, USF has become the university that Dr. Genshaft envisioned and worked tirelessly to achieve: A Preeminent State Research University that regularly earns national and international recognition for student success, research and innovation, fundraising and economic development.
Over the past 19 years, the university’s enrollment has grown by 40 percent while its four-year graduation rate has tripled. Particularly noteworthy is the fact that all USF students now graduate at the same rate, regardless of race, ethnicity or family income level. In 2017, USF became just the third public university in the country founded since 1956 to complete a $1 billion fundraising campaign. The university’s endowment has grown from $254 million to $480 million.
During Dr. Genshaft’s presidency, USF’s research activity has tripled to more than $568 million in expenditures, positioning USF as one of the nation’s top 25 public universities for research. USF also now ranks as America’s fifth leading public university in generating new U.S. utility patents.
On the pages that follow, you will find a selection of highlights from throughout Dr. Genshaft’s presidency, as well as reflections shared especially for this issue by admirers from within and outside of the university.
––––– 2000 – 2001 ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
PRESIDENT, ASSOCIATION OF PUBLIC
AND LAND-GRANT UNIVERSITIES
THROUGHOUT HER CAREER in higher education, Judy Genshaft has relentlessly pursued ways to deliver an affordable, high-quality, and globally focused education to students from all different backgrounds. During her time at the University of South Florida, Judy always thought big. She is an unquestioned leader, tracing some of the broadest and most path-breaking work in internationalization. Her leadership in building a truly international campus has proven indispensable — not just at the University of South Florida, but as a model to be emulated across the country.
She used her role as chair of APLU’s Commission on International Initiatives to help drive campus internationalization efforts more broadly, always with an eye on the benefits such efforts provide students in an interconnected world and global economy. Those of us at APLU have been fortunate enough to also be on the receiving end of her wisdom as a member of our Board of Directors for many years. She is always so giving with her time, thoughts, and energy as she works to improve the quality of public higher education at USF and beyond. I wish her much happiness in retirement and know that the legacy of her accomplishments will carry on.
STUDENT BODY PRESIDENT, 2017-2019
MEMBER, USF BOARD OF TRUSTEES
FOR STUDENTS AT USF, President Genshaft is an icon. When you mention her name, people know who you are talking about. In my role, I’ve had the opportunity to visit a lot of other campuses, and that just isn’t common. At most other institutions, students don’t know who their president is. And when she talks about her love for this university, it resonates with those around her. I’ve never seen another leader who consistently demonstrates her empathy and her compassion for others, as well as her love for the university. You need someone, regardless of the circumstances, to continually show their willingness to serve. President Genshaft has been here for this long because she wants to be, because she wants to inspire this university to be the best that it can be. Was USF a great university when she arrived? Most people would say yes. But people also saw greater possibilities and she is the one who has pushed us to the greater heights we have achieved.
––––– 2003 – 2005 ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
Mark A. Emmert
JUDY GENSHAFT IS A DEDICATED LEADER on her campus and in higher education. Her commitment to student success is evident through the initiatives she has helped shepherd during her time at the University of South Florida. When you arrive at USF, you instantly feel the connection between students and the campus, which Judy has helped foster. Her time spent building great relationships with students has enriched their experiences, but also the school as a whole.
Judy has also been an advocate for the integration of college athletics and education. Her service on the NCAA Division I Board of Directors helped initiate significant changes in college sports, including several that focused on centering the student-athlete experience. She also helped pave the way for others by serving as the first female chair of that committee. I am grateful for Judy’s service to our mission and for her tireless work to support students on her campus.
Paul R. Sanberg
USF SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT FOR RESEARCH,
INNOVATION & KNOWLEDGE ENTERPRISE
WHEN JUDY GENSHAFT ARRIVED at the University of South Florida in the summer of 2000, we were in a very different place as a university. We had taken our first steps toward becoming a research university, but we were still a long way from understanding what it meant to be an institution with a strong focus on applied research, technology transfer and faculty innovation. President Genshaft changed that with her interest in integrating USF into the economic fabric of the Tampa Bay Region. By encouraging innovators and inventors to take their discoveries to the next step through patents and licensing and startups, she opened the door for our faculty and students to explore the full measure of their talents. Today, we pride ourselves on having created a culture of innovation that supports, celebrates and elevates innovators and inventors. Without her support, a number of efforts to recognize and honor academic inventors on a state and national level – such as the National Academy of Inventors and the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame – would not have been possible. That’s why under President Genshaft’s leadership, USF has risen to become one of the nation’s leading public universities in being granted new U.S. utility patents and stands among the national leaders in faculty-created spinoff companies.
President Genshaft inspired the USF community to see that the greatest impact we could have on the future is in applying the knowledge and technologies we create here in the USF System to helping solve the world’s biggest problems. She envisioned USF faculty and students contributing to the economic prosperity of the Tampa Bay region, and that vision has been realized in the tremendous growth we have seen in our regional knowledge economy. Companies that are relocating to the Tampa Bay Region always cite USF Tampa, USF St. Petersburg and USF Sarasota-Manatee as important factors in their decision to come here. As an institution we are now known for valuing and recognizing inventive talent and will continue to attract individuals who will build on that reputation for generations to come. USF’s eagerness to engage in the world and be a positive force for change is part of President Genshaft’s enduring impact on this institution and the larger Tampa Bay region.
––––– 2006 – 2007 ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
REGIONAL CHANCELLOR, USF ST. PETERSBURG
PRESIDENT GENSHAFT IS AN INSPIRATIONAL leader who has impacted my life significantly in the short time since my arrival in the USF System. She is an advocate for progress and never settles for the status quo. The exceptional growth at USF St. Petersburg is a direct outcome of her ability to build partnerships and engage the community to expand university programs, facilities and networks.
Under her leadership, USF St. Petersburg transitioned from a small regional campus to a full-fledged regional university as part of the USF System. Her drive, her energy, and her commitment to USF fuels where we are going at USF St Petersburg and will continue to influence decisions we make for years to come.
REGIONAL CHANCELLOR, USF SARASOTA-MANATEE
THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA has been privileged to have such a remarkable leader for 19 years. Dr. Genshaft has many strengths as a leader. I admire greatly her unwavering focus on student success and her ability to build teams of the right people to accomplish ambitious goals. She has the ability to empower others to succeed by providing the vision, necessary resources and autonomy for them to use their energy and talents to the fullest. Few university presidents have led the kind of growth and success USF has experienced during her tenure. This is a tribute to her indefatigable energy and engagement on campus, in the community, nationally and internationally. Judy understands the importance of the vast array of stakeholders and makes every one of them feel that USF is theirs. I treasure my long relationship with Dr. Genshaft as a colleague and friend, and will greatly miss her at the helm of the University of South Florida.
––––– 2008 – 2010 ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
President Genshaft served a one-year term, 2009-10, as chair of the board of the American Council on Education, placing USF at the heart of the national discussion on the importance of higher education and scientific research. ACE represents more than 1,700 college and university presidents and the executives at related associations. In 2017, ACE presented Dr. Genshaft with its annual Donna Shavlik Award, which honors an individual who demonstrates a sustained commitment to advancing women in higher education. In March 2019, ACE presented USF with its “Institutional Transformation” award for achievements in student success.
August 13, 2010: President Genshaft elected chair of the NCAA Division I Board of Directors by a unanimous vote of the board.
––––– 2011 – 2012 ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
USF PROVOST AND EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT
PRESIDENT GENSHAFT IS A TRUE FORCE of nature who, over the past 19 years, has brought unparalleled leadership and a tireless commitment to transforming the University of South Florida into one of the nation’s most dynamic top-tier public research universities. Throughout that time, it has been her laser-like focus and dogged pursuit of strategic excellence, along with an unwavering dedication to our students and determination to best serve the needs of our campuses and broader community that I have come to most admire. It is clear to anyone who knows her that this commitment and dedication is more than a mere professional obligation but rather a deeply personal mission. It has been both a pleasure and honor to work alongside, and to learn from, such an admired and talented university leader.
USF SYSTEM VICE PRESIDENT, USF WORLD
DR. GENSHAFT’S DEVOTION to global education has transformed USF into an internationally engaged and globally focused university over the past 19 years. At home, the USF System has welcomed and cared for ever-increasing numbers of international students, scholars and faculty who have enriched and contributed to campus life in ways that reflect the President’s deep dedication to a diverse and inclusive academic community. Around the world, USF students broaden their global competence and multiple perspectives while faculty influence positive societal change through transformational research.
Dr. Genshaft, with her husband Steve, have led this institutional commitment by example. Their legacy of Genshaft-Greenbaum scholarships will allow students to touch their world and have the kinds of transformative experiences that shape their entire lives. Today, as a result of her single-minded focus, the global profile of USF is unquestioned. Colleagues all over the world value and appreciate their partnerships with USF. We will always be profoundly grateful to Dr. Genshaft for her global leadership!
––––– 2013 – 2014 ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
DEAN, MUMA COLLEGE OF BUSINESS
USF President Judy Genshaft is the best president I have ever worked with – or even known – and I’ve been in academia for three decades and studied and taught on four continents. She genuinely cares about the students and the students know that. Why? Because she always makes time to talk to them, to find out what they’re about, to encourage them, to motivate them. She is the essence of leadership: a visionary with a human side whose energy is boundless and whose passion for her work, contagious. I have learned so much from just being around her, not only about the quality of leadership, but about dignified human interaction. She calls you on your birthday and if you have a challenge, either personal or professional, she’s ready to give you some sage advice. I could not be prouder to tell my colleagues around the world that I draw inspiration from her and I’m so honored to call her my friend.
It’s no secret that Judy exudes a level of energy that is unparalleled and her soaring spirit touches all those around her. I often run into her at breakfast functions – 7 or 8 a.m. – and I watch in amazement as she works the room. Everybody gets a handshake and a smile and a bit of conversation. Twelve hours later, I find myself at an evening function, weary from the long day, and there she is, tireless, still smiling, chatting with people.
––––– 2015 – 2017 ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
VICE PRESIDENT FOR STUDENT AFFAIRS
AND STUDENT SUCCESS
WHEN DR. GENSHAFT ARRIVED at USF in 2000, she had a vision – she saw a nationally ranked, public research university dedicated to student success. Few of us at the time would have thought it possible to attain the record-breaking levels of accomplishment of our university today. Our six-year graduation rate climbed from 38 percent to 73 percent and, perhaps more importantly, we have eliminated the achievement gap by race, ethnicity and income. Few, if any universities in the country, can boast of such a spectacular rate of improvement.
USF could not have achieved any of this without the firm, unwavering commitment of President Genshaft. Under her leadership, student success became the primary focus of senior administration. Many universities have implemented similar programs, practices and policies to elevate the performance of their students, but few of them produced the gains our students recorded. I attribute this success to the institutional culture that Dr. Genshaft created to support our student success movement.
SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT OF ADVANCEMENT AND ALUMNI RELATIONS AND USF FOUNDATION CEO
THERE IS NO BETTER PARTNER in the world of academic fundraising than my boss, Judy Genshaft. She does her homework before meeting with potential donors, speaks with passion about what we do and listens to them talk about their vision. They love her. Our community knows that Judy is truly the brand and the soul of USF.
She walks the walk ... giving of her time and talent and treasure as one of the most philanthropic presidents of any university in the nation.
Judy is the reason I’m here. Working with her over the past 10 years has been one
of the highlights of my life.
She will be greatly missed.
––––– 2018 – 2019 ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
DEAN, HONORS COLLEGE
IT’S HARD TO IMAGINE today’s USF without Judy Genshaft, but it’s particularly difficult to think of the Honors College without her. From her conversion of a small honors program into a College until today, her vision to create a vibrant campus home for our very best undergraduates has informed every step of our growth. Her passion is for excellence in every aspect of life, so it’s not surprising that she has taken a special interest in our most talented students, and has worked hard to ensure that they have the support that they need to succeed at the very highest levels. To borrow a phrase that I have often heard her use, she has given tirelessly of her time, talent, and treasure for honors students. She has visited the Allen Building often to speak to them about leadership, and has taken time from her busy schedule to mentor individual students. The Genshaft-Greenbaum Scholarships and the Genshaft Global Presidential Scholarship, both of which support international education for honors students, have transformed literally thousands of students’ lives by expanding their intellectual horizons and opening up new and exciting opportunities for growth.
In these ways and more, she leaves a legacy to the Honors College that is, like her broader legacy to the university, immense and incalculable. I know that I speak for Honors students, faculty, advisors – past, present, and future – in offering deep and heartfelt gratitude to her for all that she’s done and will continue to do for the College. Go Bulls!
Charles J. Lockwood, MD
SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, USF HEALTH
DEAN, USF HEALTH MORSANI COLLEGE OF MEDICINE
THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA has emerged as a major international research university under USF System President Judy Genshaft’s visionary and transformative leadership. Working with unwavering optimism and energy, she has propelled our university to earn the State’s Preeminent Research University designation. She has an incomparable commitment to academic success, innovation and economic growth. Due in large part to her steadfast support of USF Health’s pursuit of excellence, we have made great strides in our collective journey toward “Making Life Better.” President Genshaft challenged us to identify new ways to expand our educational programs across medicine, nursing, public health, pharmacy, physical therapy and other clinical areas to meet the needs of our students and of our region; to accelerate interdisciplinary discovery by conducting groundbreaking research and attracting world class scientists. Our clinical services provide the latest and best care to our patients and community. Dr. Genshaft boldly embraced the expansion of USF Health to the downtown Tampa Water Street district and helped us achieve an unprecedented level of collaboration with Tampa General Hospital. Every great university has a great leader, and I could not be more appreciative of President Genshaft’s leadership.
ED.D. ’00, LIFE MEMBER
CHIEF OF STAFF, ASSISTANT CORPORATE SECRETARY
Having a front row seat to Dr. Genshaft’s presidency since 2000 has been exhilarating and empowering. Watching Dr. Genshaft enhance the university’s stature throughout the region, state, nation and world through her collaborative approach — in spite of many obstacles — should be a model for all leaders. She is a rock star among the students due to her energy and passion. One of my favorite memories will be walking across campus with “President Judy.” We would have to stop every few steps for student selfies! Her integrity, authenticity, humility and empathy for others will be ingrained in her legacy.