Saturday, June 23, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Gift to USF drives a new mission

The record donation Friday by Les and Pam Muma marks a new chapter for the University of South Florida and its College of Business. The $25 million gift will create new opportunities for the next generation to enrich the ranks of American business. The donation also reflects the role this maturing institution will play in expanding the appeal of the Tampa Bay region.

The Belleair couple and USF made the announcement Friday, sketching out a new mission for the college that will bring a greater intensity to preparing students for the modern working world. The money will establish a new leadership program designed to put students on a professional track from the moment they arrive on campus. Students will receive added attention across a range of areas, from help with improving their presentation and communications skills to fostering a lifelong commitment to professional development.

The principle behind this approach is that by preparing students better the university can help build stronger companies that in turn can strengthen the region. This focus on improving the quality of the local workforce will give economic development agencies another selling point as they market Tampa Bay as a competitive place for business.

The Mumas said they wanted to give back to an institution that was so pivotal to their success; Les is a 1966 USF graduate and the retired chairman and chief executive of Fiserv, a financial industry products and services company. Pam, a 1968 graduate, has a long history of working for health and educational causes. In addition to giving students more resources to start their careers, the donation will also provide for a more engaged faculty, which could help attract new talent and industry to the campus and the bay area.

With their generosity, the Mumas have guaranteed that some lucky USF students will enjoy the same rich experience in these formative years. And the renaming of the business school as the Muma College of Business will create a lifelong association for many that will only build new ties between the university and its alumni.

The donation speaks to the Mumas' civic commitment, and to the confidence of the bay area couple that USF has the talent and potential to become a leader in business education. This is a high-profile show of faith that the philanthropic community, regional business and political leaders and the outside world cannot ignore. It raises the bar on charitable giving and leads to the obvious question: What can the university aspire to next?

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