USF launches national search for a new president

The board of trustees picks a search committee and a firm to lead the process of finding a successor to Steve Currall.
Students walk near the Marshall Student Center at the University of South Florida, which is embarking on a search for a new president.
Students walk near the Marshall Student Center at the University of South Florida, which is embarking on a search for a new president. [ MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times ]
Published Aug. 24, 2021|Updated Aug. 24, 2021

The University of South Florida began the process of finding a new president Tuesday as its board of trustees chose a search committee and a firm that will work to find candidates from across the nation.

The board selected SP&A Executive Search to lead the effort, the same firm that recently conducted president searches for Florida State University and the University of Central Florida.

An advisory committee interviewed five firms. Greenwood/Asher & Associates, which conducted the search that found Steve Currall in 2019 was not interviewed. Currall stepped down last month after two years in the job. Rhea Law, a Tampa attorney with decades-long connections to the university, is serving as interim president until a new leader is chosen.

SP&A’s website advertises itself as “a boutique woman-and minority-owned executive search firm.” Trustee Mike Griffin, who will chair the search committee, said the firm was selected largely for its experience conducting searches in Florida and for schools like Penn State and those in the California system who are members of the Association of American Universities. The association is a group of 66 prestigious research universities that USF aspires to join one day.

Griffin mentioned Alberto Pimentel, a partner in the firm, and said he “really, really gets us and understands our needs.”

Several universities across the country are embarking on similar searches so the process would be competitive, Griffin said. The firm will work with the search committee, whose members will include:

  • Melissa Seixas, president of Duke Energy Florida and a USF trustee.
  • Tammy Allen, USF professor in industrial-organizational psychology
  • Derrick Brooks, the former Buccaneers star and member of the NFL Hall of Fame. Brooks also serves on the boards of Vinik Sports Group and EVP Corporate & Community Development and Kforce. He is president and founder of Derrick Brooks Charities.
  • Lisa Carlton, a former state senator and state representative and a member of the USF Sarasota-Manatee Campus Advisory Board
  • Braulio Colon, vice president of student success initiatives at the Helios Education Foundation
  • John Couris, president and CEO of Tampa General Hospital
  • Julia Cunningham, president of USF Student Government and a USF trustee
  • Oscar Horton, president of Sun State International and a USF trustee
  • Dr. Patrick Hwu, president and CEO of Moffitt Cancer Center
  • Ken Jones, member of Florida Board of Governors, founder and CEO of TL Capital and Third Lake Partners
  • Mark Mondello, CEO of Jabil Inc.
  • Sylvia Wilson Thomas, a USF professor and senior member of National Academy of Inventors
  • Debbie Nye Sembler, a USF St. Petersburg Campus Advisory Board member and a former USF trustee
  • Jose Valiente, chair of USF Foundation Board of Directors, retired partner at the professional services and accountancy firm of CliftonLarsonAllen.

Board of trustees chairperson Will Weatherford said the composition of the committee would help strengthen the university’s strategic alliances. A timetable for the search was not discussed Tuesday, but USF expects to create a website soon that will keep the public updated.

“We’re not in a rush to do this process,” Weatherford said, “but we’re not slowing down.”

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