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    Interim chief charms USF faculty council

    But some staff members at USF St. Petersburg question how the decision was made.

    By STEPHEN HEGARTY, Times Staff Writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published June 25, 2002

    ST. PETERSBURG -- University of South Florida president Judy Genshaft's choice as interim chief for the St. Petersburg campus drew good reviews from the faculty council here Monday.

    Ralph Wilcox seemed to say all the right things about pursuing autonomy and separate accreditation for USF St. Petersburg, and reassured faculty and students that they would have a say in campus decisions.

    But the age-old tensions about administrators from the Tampa campus making decisions for USF St. Petersburg resurfaced yet again.

    In introducing Wilcox, Genshaft made it clear that her decision was firm. She said she wanted to formally introduce Wilcox to the campus community today during another meeting.

    When professor Mark Wilson asked whether there could be some time for faculty and staff to give Genshaft feedback before she made her choice, Genshaft had a quick response.

    "The decision is mine," Genshaft said. "I would like to make the announcement (today) at the open forum."

    What followed was a discussion among faculty and staff about exactly how and when the decision should be made, and about whether they were led to believe they would have more input.

    "It would behoove us to make the consultation process real," said Ray Arsenault, professor of history. "There's no harm in having the consultation. It would help everyone."

    But other faculty members agreed that it was Genshaft's decision to make.

    "We have no choice. The decision is not ours," said professor Ellen Hufnagle, chairwoman of the faculty council. "President Genshaft has decided this is the way she wants to go."

    After a split vote, the faculty council members agreed the time for consultation was past.

    "I think he'll do a fine job, and he probably would have been chosen had we been given some time for consultation," said Barbara Frye, associate professor of elementary childhood education.

    Wilcox is a professor at the University of Memphis. He spent the past year on a fellowship working for Genshaft at USF in Tampa. He will serve as a temporary replacement for Bill Heller, the longtime campus chief who resigned at Genshaft's behest.

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