Public invited to weigh in on USF consolidation in town halls

Students walk across the University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus., Thursday, 9/28/17. In the background is the school's University Student Center. [SCOTT KEELER | Times]
Students walk across the University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus., Thursday, 9/28/17. In the background is the school's University Student Center. [SCOTT KEELER | Times]
Published August 20 2018

As the University of South Florida System hones the specifics of its consolidation into a single USF, the school is inviting the public to weigh in at a series of town halls.

The first meeting is slated for Wednesday, Aug. 22 at USF Tampa. There will be time for public comment, as well as a chance for people to submit comments online.

It was last year that lawmakers decided the USF System should shed its separate accreditations and function as one USF. (With USF Tampa's star on the rise, they reasoned, consolidation would better spread the wealth and prestige across the region — though the proposal proved highly controversial.) They put USF St. Petersburg and USF Sarasota-Manatee on a tight timeline to phase out their identities as separate universities, and instead become campuses of a single USF.

Such a consolidation is complex, raising a wide range of questions. What about duplicate degree programs and departments? How will USF preserve and strengthen each campus's identity? How much power will the regional campuses have to set their own agendas? When it comes to admissions, how can USF maintain its commitment to student access while growing more elite?

It's these topics and more that are up for discussion in the town halls, hosted by the task force helping to guide the merger. The task force has to present recommendations to USF trustees.

"An important part of the process is hearing from students, faculty, staff and community members. In order to do so in a meaningful way, we invite them to hear a status update on the task force's work and share their comments," said Dr. Jonathan Ellen, president of Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital and task force chair, in a statement.

Here's the schedule:

  • Wednesday, Aug. 22, 3-5 p.m., USF Tampa Marshall Student Center, room 3707.
  • Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2-4 p.m., USF St. Petersburg Student Center Ballroom.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 2, 3-5 p.m., USF Sarasota-Manatee Selby Auditorium.

And here are some further resources:

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