Jacob Ogles, Author at Florida Politics

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at jacobogles@hotmail.com.

Carlos Curbelo, Stephanie Murphy sound alarms on ‘deep fakes’

Two Florida Congress members engaged in tight re-election battles expressed their fears about “deep fake” videos and called on intelligence leaders to assess the threat.

U.S. Reps. Carlos Curbelo, a Miami Republican, and Stephanie Murphy, an Orlando Democrat, signed a letter with U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat, calling on Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats to publicly report on implications of new technology in meddling with democracy.

“You have repeatedly raised the alarm about disinformation campaigns in our elections and other efforts to exacerbate political and social divisions in our society to weaken our nation,” the letter reads.

“We are deeply concerned that deep fake technology could soon be deployed by malicious foreign actors.”

Convincing Deceptions

Deep fake videos earned public notice this summer when a video produced by Buzzfeed, seeming to show former President Barack Obama siding with the villain in Black Panther and describing President Donald Trump in salty terms, went viral. The words, the video revealed, were actually spoken by comedian/Obama impersonator Jordan Peele.

But Murphy, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said the threat posed by the videos must not be laughed off.

“Deep fake technology can be used by our enemies to undermine our nation’s security and democracy, which is why the Intelligence Community must provide a comprehensive report to Congress on the threat posed by deep fake technology,” she said.

“We need to know what countries have used it against U.S. interests, what the U.S. government is doing to address this national security threat, and what more the Intelligence Community needs to effectively counter the threat.”

Curbelo agreed, saying fake video technology held the potential to disrupt every facet of society, including elections.

“With implications for national security, human rights and public safety, the technological capabilities to produce this kind of propaganda targeting the United States and Americans around the world is unprecedented,” Curbelo said.

“As with any threat, our Intelligence Community must be prepared to combat deep fakes, be vigilant against them, and stand ready to protect our nation and the American people from enemies looking to exploit this new technology.”

Schiff said the DNI should work with Congress to publicize the threat.

“Deep fakes could become a potent tool for hostile powers seeking to spread misinformation,” he said. “The first step to help prepare the Intelligence Community, and the nation, to respond effectively is to understand all we can about this emerging technology and what steps we can take to protect ourselves.”

Personal Threats

Schiff holds a special interest as the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. But for Curbelo and Murphy, the threat of misinformation hits close to home. Most political prognosticators list the Florida representatives among the incumbents within their parties facing the tightest re-election fights this fall.

Curbelo, a two-term incumbent, faces consistent fundraiser Debbie Mucarsel-Powell. While a Democratic poll in August showed Curbelo winning by 7 percentage points, Florida’s 26th Congressional District still gets listed in the toss-up column for RealClearPoliticsCook Political Report recently moved the race to “Lean Republican” but categorized the contest as a toss-up until August.

Murphy, a freshman who took down Republican U.S. Rep. John Mica in 2016, stands today as the only Democratic House member in Florida on serious defense this November. While most handicappers place Florida’s 7th District in the “Lean Democrat” column, many observers (ahem) say she faces a serious challenge from state Rep. Mike Miller, who emerged last month as the Republican nominee.

Regardless, both representatives already have enough to deal with without someone circulating video on Facebook showing them cheering for supervillains.

No specific threats have yet surfaced — at least publicly — indicating foreign powers will use deep fakes to sow unrest in House elections this November, but with a Russian meddling investigation dominating business in Washington, the potential surely induces anxiety for incumbents fearing close losses.

In their letter, the three congressional authors ask Coats to assess the ability of foreign powers to produce the counterfeit videos, identify whether any intend to target the United States with misinformation and outline how the threat can be countered.

The lawmakers ask Coats to bring back a report as soon as possible, but no later than Dec. 14. Of course, the lawmakers themselves will need to secure their own re-election well before that deadline arrives.

Andrew Gillum video promises opportunity; campaign pushes back at tax critics

Democratic candidate for Governor Andrew Gillum rolled out a new advertisement promoting his economic message as his campaign pushed back on suggestions his election would usher in higher taxes.

A campaign video released Sunday includes footage from a rally last weekend in Orlando.

The audio for the ad showcases lines from Gillum’s speech about restoring economic opportunity for “our teachers who need to get paid what they’re worth” and “our kids who need an opportunity that should not be defined by their ZIP code, where they live or what side of the track they grow up on.”

The clip comes as the Tallahassee mayor’s gubernatorial campaign responds to accusations the candidate’s “Fair Shake for Florida’s Future” would bring high taxes and dangerous socialism.

Indeed, Gillum in April unveiled the plan with a promise to increase corporate taxes in order to increase education spending by $1 billion.

A new statement from Gillum’s campaign echoed that sentiment while taking a fresh swipe at Republican opponent Ron DeSantis.

“Mayor Gillum is asking our state’s richest corporations to pay their fair share so our children can have the high-quality public education they deserve — while Ron DeSantis has no plan for public education, or any other critical issue facing Floridians,” the statement reads.

But the campaign also says “No Floridian would pay even $1 more in taxes.”

The campaign said the proposed tax would be a “2.25 percent (5.5 percent, adjusted to 7.75 percent) increase on corporate income taxes,” not a 40-percent increase “as misleadingly reported.”

That appears to be a reference to an analysis by the Americans for Tax Reform, which after the primary reported that Gillum’s proposal would give Florida the “highest corporate tax in the region.”

ATR did account for Gillum’s 7.75 percent adjusted figure and said that constituted a 40.9 percent increase from taxes now, which accounts for the $1 billion in new funding Gillum wants for education.

Florida, should it institute that rate, would charge a higher corporate tax than Alabama or Tennessee (6.5 percent) or than Georgia (6 percent), according to ATR.

DeSantis, in contrast, signed a pledge before the primary not to raise taxes on Floridians.

But Gillum’s campaign says 98 percent of businesses would still pay no corporate income tax, and that 2 to 3 percent of C-Corporations that would be subject to any new tax would still pay 83.9 percent less overall in corporate taxes than they were charged in the last eight years under Republican Gov. Rick Scott.

C-Corporations with less than $50,000 income annually would be exempt, as would all S-Corporations and limited liability corporations, according to the campaign.

Gillum insists the economic message will provide empowerment for more Floridians by bolstering educational resources. And in his new campaign video, he ends on a Barack Obama-esque message just as opponents try to paint him as a big government liberal.

“The politics of hope and aspiration and inspiration and opportunity still lives, and it lives right here in the state of Florida,” Gillum says at the rally, before signing off with the campaign motto “Let’s bring it home.”

Pulse survivors back Bill Nelson, demand gun control

A group of survivors of the 2016 Pulse massacre and family of those killed in the attack have endorsed U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson’s re-election bid.

“There is only one person in this race who cares about us, and that’s Bill Nelson,” said Brandon Wolf, who survived the mass shooting.

Carlos Guillermo Smith

Nelson right now faces a tough re-election challenge from Republican Rick Scott, two-term Governor of the state. Polls show the race consistently close.

Nelson and Scott both went to the scene of Pulse the day of the shooting and remained involved in the response. However, Wolf criticized the Governor for failing to listen to Pulse survivors regarding gun control.

“Just like he has so many times before, Governor Scott turned his back on us,” Wolf said.

Scott mentioned the Pulse shooting in his State of the State address after the attack but angered some survivors by refusing to say victims were gay or LGBT.

That came up in Wolf’s endorsement Saturday. “I’m sorry we were too gay for you,” he said rhetorically to Scott. “I’m sorry we were too brown for you.”

The endorsement comes on the heels of some parents of children killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, led by Fred Guttenberg, also endorsing Nelson. Guttenberg attended Saturday’s news conference with Pulse survivors.

A rash of mass shootings in recent years made Florida a poster child for debate about the nation’s gun laws after years of heavy influence from the National Rifle Association on policy here. A number of those directly affected by the tragedy, including Wolf and Guttenberg, became nationally recognized voices on the issue.

State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith and Attorney General candidate Sean Shaw attended the Saturday press conference with Pulse victims as well. Smith, a gay Latino lawmaker from Orlando who has advocated for the Pulse community since the attack, held Scott responsible for continued failures on passing gun reforms.

“After Pulse, we grieved and stood with families to demand action. Now we’re joined by Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jamie was taken at Marjory Stoneman Douglas. Who’s next?,” Smith wrote on Facebook. “We cannot afford another NRA-sellout like Rick Scott in the US Senate.”

The Pulse shooting took place in the early hours of June 12, 2016, when a gunman swearing allegiance to the Islamic State started shooting people in the Orlando gay bar with a legally purchased Sig Sauer MCX. Ultimately, 49 people died in addition to the gunman, who was killed by police.

Wolf had been at the club with friends Christopher “Drew” Leinonen and Juan Guerrero, both of whom died in the attack.

Leinonen’s mother, Christine Leinonen, also endorsed Nelson on Saturday.

The grieving mother said lawmakers like Nelson would enact common-sense gun laws to prevent further attacks.

“This is preventable,” she said, according to NBC 2 WESH. “And it’s preventable by electing strong Democrats.”

Leinonen spoke at the Democratic National Convention in 2016 after her son’s death. She also attended Senate debates that year after endorsing Democratic Senate candidate Patrick Murphy.

Wolf after the shooting became vice president of LGBT advocacy group The Dru Project, a nonprofit named in Drew Leinonen’s memory.

Jeb Bush: Bill Nelson ‘will always vote for more taxes’

Former Gov. Jeb Bush hit the campaign trail this weekend and leveled heavy criticism at U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, saying the Democrat voted “for every liberal idea” when party leadership asked.

Bush stumped Saturday on behalf of one of his successors, Gov. Rick Scott, the Republican nominee challenging Nelson’s re-election this year. And while Bush’s governorship overlapped with Nelson’s first term, Bush did not express much nostalgia from the podium.

“With all due respect to the current incumbent, the United States senator, what has he done?” Bush asked. “I’ve been waiting. I can’t think of anything. He must have done something.”

Then he answered his own question.

“Yes he has,” Bush said. “He has voted for every liberal idea that has made it harder for us to progress as a nation.”

Bush said Nelson sometimes would hedge and “dance” on hard or unpopular decisions during his three terms in the Senate but always buckled when pressured from the left.

“When he is forced to by the leadership of his party, he will always vote for more taxes, more regulation, more government, a weaker national defense.”

That led into a full-throated endorsement for Scott.

Bush rode on Scott’s bus tour, making stops along the way in Miami and optimistically referencing the South Florida region as Scott country on Twitter.

He also showed himself on Scott’s campaign bus with Republican U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart and former U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, members of another South Florida political family.

The event came a day after former President George W. Bush, Jeb’s older brother, appeared at a Tampa fundraiser supporting Scott, according to News Channel 8 WFLA.

Of note, Jeb Bush did not originally back Scott’s ambitions when the Naples executive first ran for governor, instead preferring then-Attorney General Bill McCollum. Of course, the governor quickly backed Scott after his surprise primary win in 2010.

Scott has remained a figure with an outsider mythos, becoming an ally of President Donald Trump, while the Bushes remain the mascots of the establishment (and not such allies of Trump).

But Bush’s arrival on the campaign trail for Scott shows that in the Senate race the sometimes disparate factions of the GOP share an enthusiasm for the current governor’s Senate ambitions.

Incidentally, Bush himself rebuffed efforts to recruit him to a Senate race after his time in Tallahassee drew to a close. He rebuffed calls to run in 2010.

Did Ron DeSantis just put a charity’s tax status at risk?

Did Ron DeSantis’ campaign just put a First Responder group’s nonprofit status into jeopardy? Well, probably not — but there’s still time.

Schedulers for the Republican nominee for Governor included a charitable fundraiser on a list of “several campaign events” that the candidate will attend today.

The final public event for DeSantis will be the First Responders Fall Cook-off at the Indian River Fairgrounds in Vero Beach.

The problem? The event serves as a benefit for the First Responders of Indian River County, a 501(c)(3) organization with tax-exempt status. That designation comes with rules aplenty, according to LegalZoom, chief among them a prohibition on any political or substantial lobbying activity.

It’s something local party leaders have been conscious of as they spread the word that DeSantis would attend the cook-off as a guest judge. Frank Sosta, Jr., Indian River County chairman for the DeSantis campaign, stressed on social media posts that there will be “NO CAMPAIGNING” (note the all-caps) permitted at the event.

That’s because event organizers don’t want their tax status revoked. Now, Sosta will have T-shirts to sell on-hand but those are not something to be worn at the event.

The local Republican Executive Committee will be on hand with voter registration cards. The Democratic Executive Committee could do that too, but says nobody invited them. But there will be no campaigning materials on the tables, and candidates themselves have been asked not to stump at the event.

And for the record, DeSantis campaign officials make clear that they don’t intend to treat the cook-off like a sign-waving campaign event.

Candidates can only speak about how they support first responders, something that could present challenges for politicians, especially for those who want to tout any work on behalf of police and firefighters.

But last night, the event made it into the campaign event line-up pushed out as a paid political message from the DeSantis campaign. It was also alluded to in a pointed political release comparing the activity of the Republic to that of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum.

None of this was done by the First Responders group, of course, which doesn’t clear releases from the DeSantis headquarters.

That said, the question quickly arises why DeSantis would serve as a guest judge at a nonprofit event anyway. Vero Beach and Indian River County actually sit well south of Florida’s 6th Congressional District, the area he actually represented in the House. Besides, he resigned from the seat this week to focus his efforts on his run for Governor. He’s a curious choice to put on a panel.

Obviously, DeSantis has little reason to spend his weekend in Vero Beach six weeks out from the biggest election of his life other than to introduce himself to voters. But then, that’s probably true of a lot of the people manning booths at events like this. Cook-offs held within two months of elections tend to inspire huge numbers of politicians to discover family recipes worthy of sharing with the world.

To list the event as a campaign function in any way, though, invites scrutiny no nonprofit welcomes. If anyone from the campaign shows up with the wrong T-shirt or too large a campaign button, they may need a change of clothes handy.

And DeSantis may need to be more careful than ever about the words that come out of his mouth. On the bright side, it looks like there will be plenty of delicious food to put there instead.

Andrew Gillum agrees to Univision, Leadership Florida debates

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum accepted invitations to debates hosted by Univision and by Leadership Florida. But whether Republican Ron DeSantis will be on stage as well remains unclear.

“We hope that Congressman DeSantis will join us, though it’s unclear whether he’ll be able to answer a single question about his nonexistent campaign platform,” said Gillum adviser Scott Arceneaux in a statement.

No dates have been determined yet, except that the events would happen in October. DeSantis has yet to confirm attendance.

A release from the Gillum campaign says Univision 23 Miami and Leadership Florida invited the candidate to debates, and the release seems to indicate both of those events will take place in South Florida.

The campaign says it has insisted on having at least one debate outside of that region of the state to ensure voters across the state have heard from both candidates.

“Florida voters deserve the chance to hear from Mayor Gillum and Congressman DeSantis about the critical issues facing our state,” Arceneaux said. “Mayor Gillum looks forward to sharing his vision for Florida that lifts people up, with higher wages, more money for schools and affordable health care.”

The Gillum campaign release notes that in addition to five Democratic primary debates, Gillum also participated in February in a one-on-one debate with Speaker of the House Richard Corcoran as well.

Univision has made no announcement about when it plans to hold a debate with gubernatorial candidates. The network in 2010 held the first debate between Republican Rick Scott and Democrat Alex Sink on Oct. 8, less than a month before Scott won the governorship.

Leadership Florida, along with the Florida Press Association, hosted a 2014 televised debate between Scott and Democrat Charlie Crist on Oct. 14.

The Florida governor’s race, scheduled for Nov. 6 this year, remains one of the most closely watched in the country. All polls released included in Real Clear Politics index since the candidates won their respecting primaries show Gillum leading by between 2 and 6 percentage points.

A St. Pete Polls survey last week found the race almost tied, with Gillum holding the slightest of edge.

David Hogg, Emma Gonzalez among speakers at March For Our Lives concert today

Parkland shooting survivors David Hogg and Emma Gonzalez will join other gun control activists today at a political rally organized by Tampa Bay high school students.

March For Our Lives Tampa will host a “Band and Ballots” concert at Curtis Hixon Park to raise gun violence awareness.

“The event is a night of local bands bringing the community together as we reflect on gun violence, not as a partisan issue, but as an American issue affecting children and people everywhere every day,” said Alyssa Ackbar, a Robinson High School senior and one of the organizers of the event.

The event will include performances by local musicians, including Natalie Hernandez, a contestant on The Voice’s third season, and Tomorrow’s News, a Tampa rock band with teenage members.

Ackbar and classmate Macy McClintock organized the Tampa event, which is part of the March For Our Lives movement formed in the aftermath of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland in February.

Some of the most prominent members include survivors of the shooting, notably Hogg, who got Publix to cease political donations with a protest this summer, and Gonzalez, who has directed pointed attacks at President Donald Trump and other leaders.

Another survivor of the Parkland shooting, Sofie Whitney will also speak at the rally. She has spoken to national media including NPR about prioritizing human lives over guns.

Suicide prevention activist Khary Penebaker, a speaker from Everytown for Gun Safety, will also speak. Everytown played a critical role in crafting legislation passed by Florida lawmakers in the wake of the Parkland shooting this year.

While gun politics in Florida can prove sharply divisive, Ackbar says the important thing with today’s event will be having a nonpartisan function to raise awareness of the issue.

“The two main focuses for the event are to create an open, constructive conversation on gun violence that isn’t nominated by political party and to encourage people to get registered and vote,” she said.

And since the February tragedy, youth voter registration has soared. Target Smart in July found Florida registration of voters ages 18 to 49 jumped 8 percent after the shooting.

Candidates campaign, canvass across Sunshine State

Campaign season stops for no weekend. Candidates for the state’s biggest offices continue to greet voters around Florida. Will one be near you today?

Gov. Rick Scott, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, will ride his statewide “Make Washington Work” bus tour into Hialeah today and will hold a rally at Gus Machado Ford Dealership at 1:30 p.m.

Meanwhile, supporters in Miami will canvas for incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson. The canvass kicks off in Orange Grove and runs from 9 a.m. to noon. Supporters will push for Nelson’s re-election and for other Democrats appearing on the ballot in November.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis launches a heavy day of campaigning today with stops in Casselberry, Orlando and Vero Beach, attending numerous county events and also benefits for veterans and first responders.

Democrat Andrew Gillum’s campaign is promoting about three dozen canvassing events throughout the state, from his home base in Tallahassee to his home region of South Florida.

Republican Agriculture Commission candidate Matt Caldwell will swing through Jacksonville today on a search for votes. He’ll stop by the Republican Party of Florida headquarters on San Jose Boulevard for a candidate meet-and-greet at 10 a.m.

Check back on this post as more candidates announce events this weekend.

Ron DeSantis to campaign in Central Florida on Saturday

With the Republican nomination fight for Governor behind him and having officially resigned from his U.S. House seat, former U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis will travel Florida in a series of campaign stops today.

DeSantis will start his Saturday in Casselberry at the Seminole County Victory HQ at 10 a.m.

Then he heads to the Hispanic Heritage Month Kick-Off at La Casita Azul Del Elefante Sabio in Orlando. That event starts at 11 a.m.

He then heads to Orlando Brewing for a GOP Vets Military Appreciation barbeque from 12:30 to 2 p.m.

DeSantis will then high-tail it south to Vero Beach for a First Responders Fall Cook-Off from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Indian River Fairgrounds.

The heavy day of campaigning marks one of the most active for DeSantis the entire campaign cycle. In the Aug. 28 primary, DeSantis upset early favorite Adam Putnam, Florida’s Agriculture Commissioner, not so much with hustle as with prestige, winning a coveted endorsement from President Donald Trump.

DeSantis also made himself known to much of the Republican base with numerous appearances on Fox News, sometimes showing prowess on national issues in major debates—and other times making gaffes on national television.

But today’s heavy schedule in certain ways shows an earnest shift to campaigning on the ground and pressing the flesh with voters. It’s part of why DeSantis resigned his House seat earlier this week to focus on the campaign full-time.

“As the Republican nominee for Governor of Florida, it is clear to me that I will likely miss the vast majority of our remaining session days for this Congress,” he wrote in a letter to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.

Under these circumstances, it would be inappropriate for me to accept a salary.”

Of course, the aggressive campaigning also comes as a number of polls, even notoriously right-leaning ones, show DeSantis trailing in polls behind Democrat Andrew Gillum.

This week, new polls from Rasmussen Reports and from the Florida Chamber of Commerce showed Gillum winning by six and four percentage points respectively.

It’s official: Judy Genshaft to retire from University of South Florida

Judy Genshaft, the powerful academic leader who propelled the University of South Florida into national prominence, will announce her retirement later today (Monday).

On Monday morning, the university published a letter from Genshaft to the university community in which she thanked it for its support and friendship. She plans to step down as president on July 1, 2019, after holding the position since 2000.

The 70-year-old will outline her decision at a 2 p.m. press conference at the Patel Center.

“Nearly two decades ago, this university and this Tampa Bay community welcomed me, Steve and our sons into its family,” Genshaft wrote in the letter. “The impact that this community has made on me and my family cannot be overstated, and we are deeply grateful.

Members of the board of trustees and key regional political leaders were first briefed Sunday on the development, however USF officials at first would neither confirm nor deny Genshaft’s decision.

“President Genshaft has not made any announcements regarding her future,” university spokesman Adam Freeman said Sunday in a statement.

Genshaft, previously the vice president of academic affairs at the University at Albany, SUNY, came on as president of USF in July 2000 following a national search to succeed Betty Castor.

During her tenure, USF grew to be a research and engineering powerhouse, and just this summer the university obtained the distinction from Florida’s Board of Governors as a “preeminent university,” a goal Genshaft set out during her introductory speech in the year 2000.

That guarantees millions in additional funding each year to continue building the university’s academic strength.

Genshaft also welcomed the university’s first Phi Beta Kappa chapter in August, further establishing the school’s national reputation for academics. Just this past week, she announced new branding at the school, including a new academic logo.

“Like any great organization, we now have a clear, consistent brand to guide us as we continue to evolve in the future,” Genshaft told The Oracle, the campus newspaper.

During her 18-year tenure, the six-year graduation rate at the university rose from 38 to 70 percent. And during her tenure, USF became the second public university in 50 years to complete a $1 billion capital campaign.

She’s seen her share of controversies too, most notably when she suspended and later fired Palestinian professor Sami Al-Arian, who at one point was arrested on charges stemming from the USA Patriot Act.

The episode regularly gets referred to as one of the biggest academic freedom cases in U.S. history. Al-Arian, who always maintained he was a scapegoat and victim of anti-Muslim hysteria post-9/11, was deported to Turkey in 2015.

But Genshaft also worked to make sure the university grew in size, population and diversity.

She has overseen a mass expansion in the number of students receiving Pell grants, which Genshaft told WUSF earlier this year would ensure education for Tampa Bay’s diverse, urban population.

“These are capable students that, with the right mentoring and the right surroundings, achieve remarkably well,” she said.

In March, she named the university’s newest chief diversity officer, who will oversee implementation of a system-wide diversity strategic plan.

For the past several years, the university wrestled with internal debate over consolidation.

The St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Bradenton campuses previously earned independently accredited, but the Legislature this year stripped the campuses of that honor. The USF system now has a consolidation process underway.

Over the course of her 18-year tenure, Genshaft tallied numerous honors for the university and herself, rising to become one of the most well-paid university presidents in the country, earning $1.18 million last year according to the Tampa Bay Business Journal.

She has served as the chair of the American Council on Education and was the first women ever to chair the Division I Board for the National Collegiate Athletic Association. She won the Florida Economic Council’s Richard L. McLaughlin Award in addition to numerous awards with the Tampa Bay business community. And this year she serves as the chair for the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation.

USF during her time at the helm served as an incredible economic engine. University officials say innovation and economic development efforts surrounding the Tampa campus generate $400 million in statewide impact each year, sustain more than 3,000 jobs, and return more than $52 million in tax revenue to local, state and federal governments.

No announcements have been made as far as a search for Genshaft’s own successor.

Here is the text of the letter Genshaft sent to the USF community:

To the USF community, USF Board of Trustees and Florida Board of Governors:

The University of South Florida System is on a trajectory unlike ever before in its history. We are reaching milestones once reserved for universities twice our age. We are being recognized by everyone from local supporters to state leaders to national and global higher education stakeholders. We continue to make groundbreaking strides in research, student success, teaching and community impact. And we are coming together, for the good of our students, as one united, strong and dynamic university.

Because of this positive momentum, my family and I believe that this is the right time for me to step down from my post as President, effective July 1, 2019. It has been the honor of my professional career to be part of this journey since the year 2000.

USF is on the cusp of a new era because of the collective will and tenacity of the entire USF community. This year we were named a Preeminent State Research University by the Florida Board of Governors, we were welcomed into the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa national honor society, we surpassed our $1 billion goal for our Unstoppable campaign, we reached a record of $568 million in annual research expenditures and we admitted the most accomplished freshmen class in our university’s history. The USF System has transformed into a vibrant community, with millions of dollars in new residential, academic and research facilities, including our new USF Health Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute in downtown Tampa. And I’m especially proud of the national recognition USF has received for our efforts to improve student success and close the graduation gap among students of all races, ethnicities and socioeconomic status.

(Read about more of our accomplishments detailed in this year’s Fall Address).

All of us working together as a USF community – the students, faculty, staff, university administration, Board of Trustees, alumni, fans and supporters – is what made these achievements possible. It is this community that decided, together, to push the limits of our own potential. It is this community that will keep pushing forward as we reach greater heights of excellence.

I know that our leadership team, including our trustees, vice presidents and deans, will ensure that our strong momentum continues during the transition and beyond.

Nearly two decades ago, this university and this Tampa Bay community welcomed me, Steve and our sons into its family. The impact that this community has made on me and my family cannot be overstated, and we are deeply grateful. Thank you for your support and friendship.


Judy Genshaft
USF System President

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