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Ocean expert Hogarth to serve as interim USF St. Pete chancellor

Posted Jul 12, 2012 by Lindsay Peterson

Updated Jul 13, 2012 at 12:55 PM

With the departure of Margaret Sullivan, the former dean of USF’s College of Marine Science, William Hogarth, is taking over as chancellor of the University of South Florida St. Pete.

He’ll start on Aug. 6, while continuing as director of the Florida Institute of Oceanography, based at the marine science college near USF St. Pete’s campus.

Hogarth is also the former director of the National Marine Fisheries Service and served as chairman of the International Whaling Commission and the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas.

He’s “a respected administrator who has cultivated deep relationships within the community and who will keep USFSP moving forward on its path to excellence. He knows the institution and the community, he understands the USF System and he is committed to the success of our students,” said USF President Judy Genshaft when she announced her decision today.

You can read more here.

Frank Biafora, dean of USF St. Pete’s College of Arts and Sciences is leading the committee that will search for Sullivan’s replacement. He’ll work with national search firm R. William Funk & Associates.

Sullivan announced on June 25 that she was leaving the chancellor’s post to “pursue new adventures.”

She led the campus for three years and is credited with seeing it through a difficult time when its accreditation was in jeopardy.

USF researchers use high-tech monitors to learn about brain injuries

Posted Jun 28, 2012 by Lindsay Peterson

Updated Jun 28, 2012 at 04:54 PM

USF researchers are looking for veterans to help them out with a study into the relationship between how people walk and how they think.

What’s intriguing about it is the technology involved.

They’re using something similar to the transponders that tell air controllers how to locate airplanes in flight.

With the USF study, the monitoring device will enable researchers to track participants’ as they walk, calculating the slightest deviation from a straight and steady path.

They’ll link what they record with information about the participants’ cognitive abilities, in particular their spatial orientation and ability to plan.

They’re building on research showing that a brain injury will be reflected in a person’s gait. And they’ll be looking for signs of how one’s gait may change as their brain function changes.

It’s part of USF’s Veterans Reintegration program, which includes a $1.6 million grant from the Department of Defense that involves researchers from throughout USF.

The primary researcher on this project is William Kearns, an associate professor in rehab and mental health counseling.

He’s looking for veterans to wear the tracking devises for 30 minutes on four separate occasions.

In return they’ll get $50.

And they’ll help researchers learn more about the complexities of the brain and bring them a little closer to understanding and treating brain injuries.

For more information about the study, you can go here.

USF Lakeland loses its chief as campus prepares for closure, student “teach-out”

Posted Jun 27, 2012 by Lindsay Peterson

Updated Jun 27, 2012 at 06:36 PM

USF Lakeland interim executive David Touchton says his greatest skill is knowing when to leave. And now seems to be the time.

He had a chat with USF President Judy Genshaft this week about his future and the two decided that as the campus moves into its “teach-out” phase, it’s time for new leadership, according to a letter from Genshaft to Touchton.

Kathleen Moore, USF associate vice president, has been named to work directly with the faculty and administrators who will help the remaining Lakeland students finish up their studies.

Touchton, a USF alumni, said on Wednesday that he was proud of what he accomplished and content to leave. The task at hand calls for an academic expert, he said.

He’s sad, however, that Lakeland is losing its ties to USF, he said.

Controversy has roiled the campus since state Sen. JD Alexander, a Lakeland Republican, began pushing to make it an independent university.

In November, the state Board of Governors voted to grant independence after the campus, then called USF Polytechnic, achieved accreditation and met several other benchmarks.

The next month Genshaft dismissed then-Chancellor Marshall Goodman, who’d joined the independence push and was under scrutiny for several of his spending decisions. She put Touchton, a certified public accountant, in charge.

The decision irked Alexander because Touchton had led an effort to put the brakes on any drive toward splitting Poly from USF.

Touchton then laid off several people, the first of many steps that cut about $4 million from the campus budget. Soon Alexander began pushing a bill to close the Lakeland campus and immediately start a new university in Lakeland. Alexander led the Senate Budget Committee.

With the USF Lakeland budget going to the new university, the bill that passed included provisions for the roughly 1,100 USF Lakeland students to finish up their studies in Lakeland or another USF campus.

The “teach-out” plan will cost the state up to $18 million a year.

“There couldn’t be a more perfect person than Dr. Kathleen Moore” to handle the transition, Touchton said.

He said he was ready to focus on the local companies he runs and called his time at USF “a very big chapter in my diary.”



USF trustees go with the 11-percent solution

Posted Jun 25, 2012 by Lindsay Peterson

Updated Jun 25, 2012 at 06:13 PM

No appeal.

USF is sticking with the 11-percent tuition increase the state university Board of Governors approved last week.

“I think it’s important to go along with the governor’s wishes,” said USF trustee Debbie Sembler in an emergency conference call this afternoon. She was referring to Gov. Rick Scott’s fixed opposition to high tuition increases.

Several other universities had sought a 15-percent increase. USF trustees considered the same two weeks ago, but voted to ask for only 11, saying they were heeding warnings from the Board of Governors that 15 percent was a long shot - even though the lower number will mean at least $4 million less for the university, and less money for financial aid.

Despite those heavy hints from the state university board, it ended up approving 15 percent for four universities last week, Florida Atlantic, Florida International, New College and University of Central Florida.

That led to questions about whether USF would have been granted the 15 if it had asked for it.

Who knows. But at this point, because it asked for 11 percent it might have a tough time appealing for more, as Florida Gulf Coast University is. It asked for 14 percent and got only 12 percent.

During their call today, USF trustees also took the opportunity to polish the university’s image, which took a bit of a hit last week over its graduation rate. It’s 51 percent for students who started as freshmen at USF six years ago.

Fifty one percent is nothing to sneeze at, said Provost Ralph Wilcox.

It’s higher than at FAU and FIU. And it’s higher than at comparable out-of-state schools, University of Alabama, Birmingham, and University of Louisville.

And it’s been rising steadily at USF, while per-student funding has been dropping.

USF has increased the number of graduates with in-demand science and technology degrees, and it’s boosted its research funding also during these tight budget years, trustee chairman John Ramil pointed out.

Ramil’s point was that USF should be proud, though he topped it off with a “we should never be satisfied.”

USF St. Pete chancellor annouces her resignation

Posted Jun 25, 2012 by Lindsay Peterson

Updated Jun 25, 2012 at 02:59 PM

The chancellor of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, Margaret Sullivan, has announced she plans to resign from her job next month.

She sent USF President Judy Genshaft a single-paragraph letter last week saying her association with the USF System has been “a wonderful challenge and a great opportunity.”

Sullivan, who made $262,650, said in a letter to faculty and students, “This was not an easy decision. I have enjoyed my three and a half years leading this fine institution, and we have accomplished much together. But I feel in my heart that the timing is right.”

She listed her accomplishments, including:

- Reaffirmation of accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools;
- An increase in research funding of $800,000, to nearly $6 million;
- New academic programs, including biology, entrepreneurship and global business.

She also listed the challenges, primarily enrollment growth of 26 percent amid state funding decrease of 40 percent.

Sullivan is not leaving for another job, but to “pursue new adventures,” says a USF St. Pete news release about her plans to leave.

“USF St. Petersburg has thrived under Margaret’s capable leadership,” Genshaft said in the statement. Her guidance has put the campus “on a course of distinction.”

Sullivan took over for Karen White, who left the chancellor’s job in December 2008, six months after accreditors placed the campus on academic probation.

That cloud was lifted under Sullivan.