The University of South Florida’s board of trustees elected Will Weatherford, the former Florida House speaker from Pasco County, as its chair on Tuesday.
Weatherford was appointed to the board by Gov. Ron DeSantis in January and soon after was elected as its vice chair.
Outgoing chair Jordan Zimmerman, who has served as a trustee for more than 10 years, said Weatherford has “an uncanny ability” to position the university well for the future based on his legislative and community experience.
Weatherford served as a member of the Florida House of Representatives from 2006 to 2014. He was co-chair of the Super Bowl LV Host committee and is also a member of the Florida Council of 100, Florida Chamber of Commerce and the board of trustees for Jacksonville University, his alma mater. He is currently managing partner of Weatherford Capital.
Trustee John Ramil nominated Weatherford, citing his state and local perspective.
Weatherford said Zimmerman had been a “steady ship and rudder for the university,” particularly during the pandemic, and he called Ramil the “dean of trustees” for his more than 20 years of service on the board. He said he hopes to help the university achieve its priorities.
He will serve a two-year term.
The university adopted its strategic renewal plan at Tuesday’s trustees meeting, with new areas of emphasis concerning its mission, including social justice and human rights.
Ideas like joining the Association of American Universities and becoming a Top 25 university are not goals, Weatherford said, but the university’s mission. He said he sees USF becoming a preeminent university not only in the state but at the national level.
“We have an opportunity to dream very big,” he said. “I’m really humbled by this opportunity. I firmly believe this region of Florida will only go as far as USF will take it, economically, educationally.”
Mike Griffin, a trustee and former chair of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, was elected vice chair of the board.