The University of South Florida logo (Pic via cee.eng.usf.edu)

In a new letter to the chair of the State University Systems Board of Governors, Sen. J.D. Alexander, R-Lake Wales, criticizes leadership at the University of South Florida over what he calls a “campaign of misinformation” launched against USF Polytechnic.

USF Poly has been attempting to gain independence from USF, but allegations that higher-ups at the school may have mishandled funds have caused controversy.

USF Poly Chancellor Marshall Goodman allegedly plans to spend $500,000 on a promotional video to market the school, and has been accused of hiring his son for a $50,000-a-year post at the school, before interviews for the position had even commenced. Recent reports reveal he also had a hand in the school’s decision to spend thousands on life-size Star Wars and E.T. statues.

Another of the centerpieces of criticism by USF leadership and lawmakers alike was the procurement of Polytechnic’s 160,000 square foot Science & Technology building, the cost of which has been called into question by some state lawmakers.

In his new letter, Alexander writes that any claims that decisions on the design and procurement of the building were made solely by Goodman are incorrect, as the USF Facilities Planning and Construction Department, under the leadership of President Judy Genshaft and the USF Board of Trustees, directly handled the negotiations for the development of the building.

“It appears it was the intent of USF’s leadership to mislead the Board of Governors and the public about President Genshaft’s personal involvement and responsibility throughout the negotiation and procurement process for Polytechnic’s Science and Technology building,” writes Alexander. “It would appear that these actions were meant to improperly criticize the procurement and to harm Chancellor Goodman’s professional reputation in order to defeat the consideration of Polytechnic’s independence.”

Alexander ends his letter with a request of “all records relating to the procurement and the USF Board of Trustees and University leadership in this procurement,” as well as “an immediate full disclosure of all costs, including campus related travel by USF leadership and the Board of Trustees,” and asks that the Board of Governors “investigate the actions of USF leadership, including but not limited to, Chairman Ramil, President Genshaft, Board member Engle, former Chair Law and any others involved in this effort.”

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