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USF St. Pete leader Martin Tadlock to step down at the end of 2021

After leading the branch campus through consolidation, the regional chancellor will return to a faculty position in USF’s College of Education.

University of South Florida president Steve Currall announced Monday that St. Petersburg campus regional chancellor Martin Tadlock will return to a faculty role in the College of Education at the end of 2021.

Tadlock, 66, said in an interview that Currall had offered to extend his contract, but that he wished to spend more time with his children and grandchildren. He also said he felt the time was right for a new leader to implement USF’s plan to create academic clusters in St. Petersburg. University leaders recently presented the idea after state legislators pressured them to grow enrollment at the downtown campus.

“It’s going to take several years, it’s not going to be a sudden overnight accomplishment and that influenced my decision quite a bit,” Tadlock said of the clusters plan. “I’m at the time in my career where committing to a five-year commitment is not very realistic. I really think there’s an opportunity for someone coming in post-COVID, post-budget problems — with a state economy that’s going to boom after COVID is gone — to really come in and work with current leadership on this campus to drive those things forward for the next five years.”

Tadlock was named regional chancellor of the St. Petersburg campus in 2018 after serving as interim chancellor. He previously served as the St. Petersburg campus regional vice chancellor for academic affairs.

Over the last two years, Tadlock led the campus through a contentious consolidation process that brought USF’s three separately accredited locations together as a single university.

“As regional chancellor, Dr. Tadlock led a comprehensive approach to increasing student success, including programs to increase retention rates, an important metric in sustaining the University of South Florida’s leadership in performance-based funding,” Currall said in a statement.

He also praised Tadlock for improving the campus experience for students and opening a new residence hall in St. Petersburg. He said the search for a new regional chancellor would begin later this spring.

Tadlock said he hopes to see the university boost enrollment in St. Petersburg and attract a more diverse student body. He said he’s proud of the campus he calls an “undiscovered gem,” particularly the way it engages with the community.

Despite the tumult of the past few years, Tadlock said the campus has improved in its metrics, which he calls a testament to faculty and staff.

“I’m most proud of the people who I’ve worked with who have managed to excel through these changes they faced,” he said, recalling an “incredibly disruptive series of years since I arrived.”

In addition to the coronavirus crisis and consolidation, that stretch included the ouster of Tadlock’s predecessor, Sophia Wisniewska, over her handling of campus operations during Hurricane Irma.

Tadlock said he wished to stay on as regional chancellor until the end of the year to assist with a smooth transition.

“I really care about this place,” he said. “It’s home. It’s important to me.”

He said he looked forward to returning to the classroom after serving as an interim president, provost, vice chancellor, dean and assistant dean among other administrative positions at other universities before coming to St. Petersburg.

“I’m a professor first,” Tadlock said. “You always miss working with students.... That never goes away.”