Genshaft Gives $20 Million To USF's Honors College

May 22, 2019

In about a month, Judy Genshaft will retire as the President of the University of South Florida. 

But, thanks to a $20 million gift from her and her husband, her name will live on with the USF Judy Genshaft Honors College.

The gift from Genshaft and Steven Greenbaum will help build a permanent home for the college. 

The five story, 80,000 square foot structure will go up on the Tampa campus, next to the USF Muma College of Business. The building will cost about $47 million and is expected to open within the next five years.

The Honors College draws students from all academic disciplines across all three USF campuses.  More than 2,200 students are currently enrolled.  But it's expected to grow to around 3,000 by the time the new building opens.

"The gifted student is often the most underachieving student - they do well in school, but they underachieve for their intelligence level," said Genshaft, who formally established the Honors College in 2002. "This is to really get them moving and challenged to their greatest heights. They also change the lives of their families, especially for those (students) that are the first (in their families) to go to college."

Indira Ranaweera, a third year student at the USF Morsani College of Medicine and USF Honors College alumna, spoke at Wednesday's ceremony to announce the new name and building.

"President Genshaft has always been a very proud and vocal proponent of the Honors College. She has supported us through regular scholarships, study abroad scholarships, educational opportunities," she said.

The new, state-of-the-art building will serve students like Ranaweera with classrooms, an art studio, and music and computer labs.

In addition to the new building, Genshaft said the money will elevate the school in other ways.

"Because you're getting really top-notch students who will then impact top-notch faculty to come because they like the students and vice versa - students want to come where great faculty are," she said.

Genshaft earned almost $1.2 million in salary, performance bonuses and other compensation in the 2016-17 school year - ranking seventh among public university executives.

She and Greenbaum have previously funded scholarships that allowed students to travel around the world.

Genshaft said she finds inspiration from the words of another person who's given millions to USF, philanthropist Frank Morsani: "First you learn, then you earn, then you return."

"And that," said Genshaft, "is so, so important."

Genshaft will step down after 19 years as President of the USF System on July 1.

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