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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 the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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