Thursday, May 24, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Rivalry and results inside USF family

The Board of Governors, which oversees the state university system, asked some tough questions last week about unflattering comparisons between the University of South Florida in Tampa, USF St. Petersburg and USF Sarasota-Manatee campuses. Board vice chair Morteza Hosseini noted differences in graduation rates and other measures and told USF president Judy Genshaft, "Someone told me you treat them like a stepchild.'' That didn't sit well with Genshaft, and it shouldn't with anyone who cares about higher education in Tampa Bay.

USF in Tampa has made great strides in recent years. Its incoming students have higher test scores and grade-point averages, and it is doing a better job retaining its freshmen and graduating students attending college for the first time. But while USF in Tampa had average student SAT scores of 1777 in 2011-12, USF St. Petersburg's average SAT was 1602. USF's freshman retention rate in Tampa was 87 percent; at USF St. Petersburg it was 72 percent. The six-year graduation rate at USF in Tampa was 52 percent; at USF St. Petersburg it was 30 percent. Because many students move between the campuses, the numbers are inexact. But the questions are provocative.

Should admission standards be lower at USF St. Petersburg than at USF in Tampa? Why is the freshman retention rate and graduation rate higher in Tampa than in St. Petersburg?

The two campuses are very different. USF in Tampa is a large, urban research university with big lecture halls. USF St. Petersburg, with its intimate waterfront setting, has the vibe of a small college with smaller classes and more individual attention for students. USF St. Petersburg has only recently added student housing, and it has no Greek system, major athletic teams or doctoral programs. Both campuses recruit students, and both should be just as aggressive in retaining students after they start classes.

Genshaft told the Tampa Bay Times editorial board she was "very upset" by the characterization of USF St. Petersburg and USF Sarasota-Manatee as stepchildren and said she does not treat them that way. While there has been friction between the campuses over the years, that has largely dissipated and USF St. Petersburg and USF Sarasota-Manatee are now separately accredited. For example, Genshaft recently was instrumental in the effort to persuade Gov. Rick Scott not to veto money for a new building for the business school at USF St. Petersburg.

As for varying admission standards, Genshaft said it is up to USF St. Petersburg to "decide what the level of student mix is they want.'' But she said there should be more overall scrutiny about student retention and the way the numbers are compiled because of the way students move between the campuses in Tampa and St. Petersburg. USF St. Petersburg is accepting fewer referrals of students who were not admitted in Tampa, and it is making greater efforts to increase its retention rate.

It benefits both campuses to pull together in these efforts. Success at USF St. Petersburg reflects well on USF overall, just as USF's rising prominence in research and other areas in Tampa reflects well on the university brand. USF St. Petersburg's new chancellor, Sophia Wisniewska, takes over in a few days. She and Genshaft should seize the opportunity to work closely on examining issues such as admission standards and student retention rates. They are both Bulls, after all.

Comments
Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Legislation that waters down the 2010 Dodd-Frank law and was sent to President Donald Trump this week is a mixed bag at best. Some provisions recognize that Congress may have gone too far in some areas in the wake of the Great Recession to place new ...
Updated: 11 hours ago

Another voice: The chutzpah of these men

A new phase of the #MeToo movement may be upon us. Call it the "not so fast" era: Powerful men who plotted career comebacks mere months after being taken down by accusations of sexual misconduct now face even more alarming claims.Mario Batali, the ce...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Editorial: Candor key step to restoring trust at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute

Editorial: Candor key step to restoring trust at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute

Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital has begun the important work of rebuilding trust with its patients and the community following revelations of medical errors and other problems at its Heart Institute. CEO Dr. Jonathan Ellen candidly acknowledges...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/23/18
Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Big Sugar remains king in Florida. Just three of the state’s 27 House members voted for an amendment to the farm bill late Thursday that would have started unwinding the needless government supports for sugar that gouge taxpayers. Predictably, the am...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

This is music to the ears. Members of the Florida Orchestra will introduce at-risk students to the violin this summer at some Hillsborough recreation centers. For free.An $80,000 grant to the University Area Community Development Corp. will pay for s...
Published: 05/17/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

In barely six weeks, President Donald Trump has gone from threatening to impose $150 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods to extending a lifeline to ZTE, a Chinese cell phone company that violated U.S. sanctions by doing business with Iran and North K...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Lots of teenagers are walking together this week in Hillsborough County, a practice they’ve grown accustomed to during this remarkable school year.We can only hope they keep walking for the rest of their lives.Tens of thousands of them this week are ...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

A state investigation raises even more concern about medical errors at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and the venerable St. Petersburg institution’s lack of candor to the community. Regulators have determined the hospital broke Florida law by ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/17/18