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Bush picks 3 new trustees for USF board

They will join three others reappointed by the governor and five selected by the new Board of Governors.

By STEPHEN HEGARTY, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 7, 2003

Gov. Jeb Bush appointed three new members Monday to the University of South Florida board of trustees: the daughter-in-law of a St. Petersburg developer who is now the ambassador to Italy, a wealthy Tampa cardiologist and a retired library director.

The governor also recommended reappointment of three other members.

Today, the new state Board of Governors is expected to appoint five other members.

The appointments were made necessary by a constitutional amendment creating the Board of Governors to govern USF and other state universities. That necessitated the re-creation of the 13-member boards of trustees around the state.

Six members are appointed by the governor and five by the Board of Governors, and each board of trustees include leaders of the school's faculty senate and student body.

The USF board will retain at least three familiar faces. Reappointed by the governor were Margarita Cancio, John Ramil and chairman Dick Beard. Joining them will be Debbie Sembler of Pinellas Park and Kiran Patel and Sonja Garcia, both of Tampa.

Sembler, 46, is a marketing executive. She also is the daughter-in-law of Mel Sembler, a noted developer and Republican fundraiser now serving as U.S. ambassador to Italy.

Patel, 53, is a prominent cardiologist and health care entrepreneur. He pledged $400,000 to help USF establish a charter school and paid $5-million for the naming rights to the new arts school at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center. It will bear the name of his wife, Dr. Pallavi Patel.

Patel and Sembler contributed to Bush's re-election campaign.

Garcia, 64, is a retired library director. She worked as assistant director of human resources at the USF-Tampa library and served as chairwoman of the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library Board's subcommittee on Internet use.

As was the case when Bush first appointed the boards of trustees in 2001, the appointments around the state include some prominent business and political leaders. For instance, Al Cardenas, outgoing chairman of the state Republican Party, was appointed to the Florida A&M board of trustees, and Jim Smith, former secretary of state, was appointed to the Florida State University board.

The governor also reappointed six of the seven members of the state Board of Education, which oversees the state's education system. He also added one new member, his former chief of state, to replace Carolyn Roberts, who left to serve on the Board of Governors.

Sally Bradshaw, who ran Bush's gubernatorial campaigns in 1994 and 1998, served as his chief of staff from 1999 to 2001. She worked closely with the governor on plans to reorganize the state's education governance system.

Bush also reappointed Phil Handy as chairman, despite the Winter Park businessman's failure to win confirmation from the Senate last year. All of Bush's appointments must get Senate approval.

-- Times researcher Kitty Bennett contributed to this report.

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