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Judy Genshaft replacement at USF is down to four candidates

All of the finalists have Ph.D.s, one of several priorities identified for a new leader.

The search for a replacement for University of South Florida President Judy Genshaft is down to four.

The 15-member USF presidential search committee selected four finalists Monday to take over for Genshaft after she steps down in July.

Genshaft is the longest-serving president of the university and will retire after 19 years at the helm.

The finalists are Wanda Blanchett, Steve Currall, Debasish Dutta and Jeffrey Vitter.

All of the finalists have doctorates, one of several priorities the search committee identified in a new leader. They also all have academic leadership experience at institutions belonging to the Association of American Universities, which USF is positioning itself for future membership.

Blanchett is the current interim provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs at Rutgers University New Brunswick in New Jersey. Currall is the provost and vice president for academic affairs at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

Dutta serves as a distinguished professor of engineering and is the former chancellor at Rutgers University New Brunswick, and Vitter is a distinguished professor of computer and information science and the former chancellor at the University of Mississippi.

The finalists will next go through a round of interviews with the search committee and the USF board of trustees later this week. They’ll also have candidate conversations on each USF campus.

The search committee will conduct its interviews Wednesday at Traditions Hall at the Sam and Martha Gibbons Alumni Center at the school’s Tampa campus beginning at 9:45 a.m.

Candidate conversations will be held Thursday at USF Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota/Manatee from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. See the schedule posted below.

Finally, candidates will interview with the entire board of trustees Friday from 8 a.m. until 2:45 p.m.

All of those interviews will take place in Traditions Hall.

After the final round of interviews Friday, the board of trustees hopes to choose a new president during a meeting immediately following the last interview. Once chosen, the president-elect must then be confirmed by the Florida Board of Governors, which oversees all state universities. That confirmation is scheduled for March 28 during a meeting in Tallahassee.

Beginning Wednesday, members of the campus community and the public will have an opportunity to submit feedback on the candidates through the presidential search website.

Candidate conversations on Thursday, March 21

USF Tampa

8 a.m. — 9 a.m.: Dutta

11 a.m. — noon: Currall

2 p.m. — 3 p.m.: Vitter

5 p.m. — 6 p.m.: Blanchett

USF St. Petersburg

8 a.m. — 9 a.m.: Vitter

11 a.m. — 12 p.m.: Blanchett

2 p.m. — 3 p.m.: Dutta

5 p.m. — 6 p.m.: Currall

USF Sarasota-Manatee

8 a.m. — 9 a.m.: Blanchett

11 a.m. — noon: Dutta

2 p.m. — 3 p.m.: Currall

5 p.m. — 6 p.m.: Vitter

Forums will be held in Traditions Hall at USF Tampa, the University Student Center Ballroom at USF St. Petersburg and Room A320A at the USF Sarasota-Manatee Campus Center.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at Janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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