USF president tight-lipped about golden parachute for ousted St. Pete chancellor

Former Regional Chancellor Sophia Wisniewska

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – USF President Judy Genshaft refused to comment Wednesday on why she offered former Regional Chancellor Sophia Wisniewska a golden parachute after forcing her resignation as the top educator on the USF St. Petersburg campus.

“We appreciate your concern in covering this, but that’s all I can say at this point,” Genshaft told 8 On Your Side.

Genshaft reportedly wanted to fire Wisniewska after the Chancellor resisted a dormitory evacuation in the Friday before Hurricane Irma hit and then fled to Atlanta Saturday for her own safety while implying in emails she was still walking the campus.

In a brokered settlement, the former Chancellor will receive 20 weeks pay at her annual salary rate of $289,000 a year, plus tenured professor pay until May 2018 at the rate of about $80,000 a year, all of it paid for with public dollars.

Genshaft’s USF staff in Tampa tell us the school could have terminated Wisniewska as chancellor, but she was still entitled to employment as a tenured instructor. The severance pay was necessary in order to make her quit.

But the question remains —  why does a Chancellor need tenure if she’s not in the classroom? USF responded to that question this way in a statement released today:

Tenure is important to ensuring that USF provides our students, and the entire Tampa Bay region, with access to world class faculty members.  By offering tenure, USF is able to continue recruiting and retaining top instructors, researchers and academic administrators.  The industry standard in higher education is to recommend new hires for tenure as a condition of employment if they earned that distinction at their previous institution, and upon successful completion of a rigorous review process.  USF will continue to follow that practice as we compete with universities across the nation to attract the best candidates.”

Whatever the reason, Genshaft isn’t explaining anything when asked by Eight on Your Side about Wisniewska’s golden parachute that You Paid For.” I cannot talk further about this but you have all the materials all the timelines through the records requests that we supplied you have every bit of material,” Genshaft said.

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