USF Pres highlights partnerships in fall address, touches on USF Poly split
It's all about alliances. That was the message in University of South Florida President Judy Genshaft's annual fall address on Wednesday, highlighting the many public-private partnerships the university has cultivated, and touching on a recent call to split one of the branches of USF systems off into its own university.
First, Genshaft talked about the partnership between educators and students -- specifically praising a new USF student success campaign that urges students to "Take 15," as in 15 credits per semester in order to graduate on time. That new push is intended to improve graduation rates, which, Genshaft pointed out, are actually up 3 percent. She also applauded graduate student enrollment, which has now reached 25 percent of USF's total student body. That benchmark was one of Genshaft's goals outlined in her inaugural speech 11 years ago.
Then INTO-USF, a new private-public partnership that helps international students earn a degree in the U.S.; The Tampa Innovation Alliance, a partnership between USF, Busch Gardens, Moffitt Cancer Center and University Community Hospital that aims to boost economic development in the area around the university; And a new USF Health project with The Villages, south of Ocala, that will study retirement and illnesses in older adults. And don't forget USF's recent recognition for its many patents, the $11 million grant that was just awarded from BP and USF's designation as one of the "coolest schools" by the Sierra Club.
"When you talk to our students, that is what they say: USF is the university of the future. We're here to help them thrive in a new world. We're ready to create new relationships, with our students, our faculty and staff, and with our partners," Genshaft said.
Nearing the end of her speech, Genshaft gave a shout-out to the "USF System itself," singling out USF St. Petersburg for its growing enrollment, USF Sarasota-Manatee for its recent separate accreditation and new rowing team, and USF Polytechnic for new faculty hires that contribute to the polytechnic vision of applied learning.
"What I absolutely believe is this: Universities must create alliances like the USF System. To succeed, universities need to link up for cost efficiency and to share strengths. That's what we did. Our USF System is an innovative, linked system of partners. It saves the state money. It provides greater access to students. And it creates the value proposition of the unique strengths and reputations of each of its partners," she said.
She mentioned the strength of USF's name brand, and how taxpayers benefit from their investment in higher education. Then, as if you hadn't guessed what she was alluding to, Genshaft reminded the faculty audience that the Board of Governors will soon discuss whether to make USF Polytechnic an independent university.
"That is a decision for the Board of Governors and Legislature to make," she said. "We will either continue to develop that campus under the USF umbrella, or we will be great neighbors and friends.
"Simply put: We want what's best for the students."