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Genshaft's varied career helps make the grade

The new president has been a professor, provost and school psychologist, all of which should come in handy.


© St. Petersburg Times, published March 11, 2000

The University of South Florida's new president has succeeded at every stage of her career, but Judy Genshaft will have to make the jump from second-in-command at a mid-sized school to the top job at an institution twice as large.

Genshaft, 52, has had a busy and varied academic career. She has been a school psychologist, a professor and the chief academic officer of a research university. She has quelled academic infighting, raised money, written academic articles, co-edited three books and hosted a radio show.

All those experiences should come in handy as she takes the reins of a young, urban university still on the rise -- one that hopes to make its reputation as a leading research center during her tenure.

Genshaft was born and reared in Canton, Ohio, the daughter of a meatpacking magnate.

After high school, she entered the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where she graduated in 1969 with a degree in social work and psychology. She then went to work as a psychiatric social worker in Canton.

She continued her education at Kent State, earning a master's in school psychology in 1973. During the next three years, she worked as a school psychologist in the Canton schools while earning her doctorate in counseling psychology from Kent State in 1975.

In 1976, Genshaft got started in her career as a university administrator.

It began at Ohio State University as an assistant professor in school psychology. By the time she left 16 years later, she was an acting associate provost and presidential intern. She also chaired the University Senate and headed the Department of Educational Services and Research.

In 1992, she moved to the University at Albany, State University of New York as the dean of the School of Education. Since 1997, she has served as the university's provost, which is the school's chief academic officer.

At Albany she has developed a reputation as a high-energy administrator who puts in the time and gets the job done -- attributes cited repeatedly in the search and interview process for the USF job.

Alan Chartock, a communications professor and prominent political commentator in New York, called Genshaft a fighter and stand-up administrator committed to academic excellence.

"Trust me, I've been through a lot of college presidents in my time, and there are very few that you can ride the river with. She's one of them," Chartock said.

-- Staff writer Adam Smith contributed to this report.

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