Steve Currall’s tenure as president of the University of South Florida will end next month after two years, he announced Monday.
Below is a timeline of the Currall presidency:
- Sept. 10, 2018: Judy Genshaft announces her plan to retire after nearly two decades as USF’s president. The announcement comes on the heels of a $1 billion fundraising campaign for the university and its designation, by the Florida Board of Governors, as a “preeminent state research university.”
- March 2019: After a five-month search, criticized by some for its lack of transparency, the university names four finalists. Among them is Currall, then a 60-year-old vice president and provost at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. He has a doctorate in organizational behavior, a master’s degree in social psychology and a history of success in securing large grants.
- March 22, 2019: In a final interview, Currall says that leading USF would be his “great life mission.” He is offered the job the same day. The Board of Governors confirms the nomination less than a week later, calling him a “perfect fit” for the position.
- July 1, 2019: Currall starts work as USF president. Among his key tasks is consolidating the university’s three campuses, which the Florida Legislature demanded in 2018.
- September 2019: Currall lays out a plan for consolidation that would strip power from administrators at the St. Petersburg and Sarasota campuses. It draws criticism from faculty and lawmakers, who say the plan conflicts with state law governing branch campuses.
- October 2019: USF unveils a new consolidation proposal that, contrary to Currall’s original plan, would let chancellors in St. Petersburg and Sarasota retain authority over academics, budgets and hiring.
- May-June 2020: In the wake of the murder of George Floyd, Currall calls for reflection and respect. Many Black faculty and staff members are critical of the statement, which they say doesn’t go far enough. In a letter to Currall, they urge the university to fight systemic racism, including evaluating pay disparities, recruiting more Black employees and examining policies at the school’s police department.
- June 12, 2020: USF announces that its consolidation plan has passed the necessary measures and will go into effect July 1.
- June 23, 2020: Chelsea Engel, a 23-year-old former USF student, recounts a 2017 sexual assault in a tweet and invites others to share their stories, leading to an avalanche of sexual assault allegations. Currall vows “a review of our internal processes.”
- July 11, 2020: Unionized graduate assistants protest outside the president’s on-campus residence, where they call for better health insurance, a living wage and paid parental leave.
- Aug. 4, 2020: Currall announces actions meant to address systemic racism on campus, including the promotions of two Black educators to high-ranking roles, strengthened efforts to recruit Black students and a series of forums.
- September 2020: The university announces the funding of 23 research projects focusing on race and systemic inequities. A day later, a panel advising the College of Arts and Sciences on diversity issues resigns in frustration. Its members say university leaders were reluctant to engage with them and their ideas.
- October 2020: Citing declining enrollment and a budget process undermining its independence, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman complains that the city’s USF campus is being eroded. Legislators Chris Sprowls and Jeff Brandes, who worked to pass the consolidation legislation, signal similar worries.
- Oct. 15, 2020: USF announces it will phase out undergraduate programs in its College of Education and restructure it as a graduate school, a surprise move intended to save money amid budget cuts.
- Jan. 6, 2021: After months of criticism, USF reverses course and says it will continue to offer undergraduate programs in the College of Education.
- Monday: Currall announces his retirement.