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Groundbreaking set for USF Judy Genshaft Honors College

Margie Manning

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A rendering of the Judy Genshaft Honors College

The first ceremonial shovels of dirt will be turned Dec. 1 for the Judy Genshaft Honors College at University of South Florida’s Tampa campus. 

The USF Board of Trustees late Tuesday afternoon approved a budget amendment, clearing the way for construction to begin.

The project now is expected to cost $54.6 million, about $5.2 million less than an estimate from November 2019. In the past year, USF has worked with the contractor, The Beck Group, and with architectural firms FleishmanGarcia and Morphosis to cut the cost, while maintaining the quality, uniqueness and functionality of the structure, a report to the trustees said.

Beck Group recently completed the new student housing construction project and a renovation of Davis Hall, both at USF’s St. Petersburg campus, on time and on budget, said Jordan Zimmerman, chair of the Board of Trustees.

“It was a very good experience for all of us,” said Stephanie Goforth, vice chair of the USF board and chair of the St. Petersburg campus board. “I was over there a lot and there were no surprises.”

Beck Group works with Envision Construction Services, a minority subcontractor, said David Lechner, USF senior vice president for business and financial strategy. In addition, USF has hired a woman-owned firm to oversee day-to-day construction work and serve as the owner’s representative, Lechner said.

Beck has committed to a gross maximum price of $43.3 million in construction costs.

“Just like we did in St. Petersburg, we are going to hold them accountable. They are getting a not-to-exceed bid and also a drop-dead date for delivery of Aug. 1, 2022,” Zimmerman said.

Remaining project costs include design and professional fees of $5.1 million, furniture and fixtures costs of $3.4 million, and contingency, testing, permits and other costs of $2.8 million, the report to the trustees said.

Philanthropy is targeted to cover all but the furniture and fixture costs and other allowable costs.

“While we are still fundraising, the [USF] Foundation has succeeded in gaining $43 million in pledges, with half of the pledge amount already received,” Zimmerman said.

USF President Emerita Judy Genshaft and Steven Greenbaum

The building is named for USF President Emerita Judy Genshaft. Genshaft was president of USF for 19 years before retiring in 2019, when she and her husband, Steven Greenbaum, donated $20 million to the Foundation. They also announced a $3 million gift to create an endowment for the deanship of the Judy Genshaft Honors College.

“The Judy Genshaft Honors College building will be transformational for USF and its students and its faculty,” said Steven Currall, who succeeded Genshaft as USF president. “Besides being a significant building on campus, it will be a much needed new home for students and faculty of our Honors College, which is currently housed in the Allen building, one of the oldest facilities on campus in a somewhat less-than-appealing setting for our Honors College. The new building will further distinguish our world-class Honors College from its peers and will enhance our ability to attract the most accomplished students from Florida, the nation and around the world. Many students take advantage of the interdisciplinary offerings in the Honors College and this building will be a beacon that clearly signals the desire of USF to continue to support the educational achievements of our students.”

The groundbreaking ceremony is Tuesday, Dec. 1 at 10 a.m., Currall said.

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