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Guest Column
We need your help to search for the next USF president | Column
USF belongs to all of us, writes the chair of the USF Board of Trustees.
Rafaella Pavinato and Eduarda Gaige hug at the conclusion of USF's first commencement ceremony in-person after the pandemic at Tropicana Field Saturday, May 8, 2021.
Rafaella Pavinato and Eduarda Gaige hug at the conclusion of USF's first commencement ceremony in-person after the pandemic at Tropicana Field Saturday, May 8, 2021. [ JOHN PENDYGRAFT | Times ]
Published Jul. 23
Updated Jul. 26

Over the past decade, the Tampa Bay region has transformed from a well-kept secret to one of the fastest-growing global powerhouses, attracting Fortune 500 companies, major athletic and cultural institutions and top talent from around the world.

Right alongside it, not coincidentally, we have watched the University of South Florida grow and evolve into the fastest-rising university in the country. Serving more than 50,000 students from all over the world across our three campuses, USF is the magnet that draws top talent, energy and innovation to our region. As Florida’s only preeminent public research university located in an urban setting, USF has a distinctive mission that creates immense opportunities.

Will Weatherford
Will Weatherford [ Provided ]

I have always said that our community will only go as far as USF will take us. Our future — the future of this region and the future of this university — is very bright and very connected.

As we embark on a search for USF’s next leader, there is much to be excited about. The next president of USF will join a university rooted in a history of bold ambitions and driven by an optimistic vision of what’s possible; a university recognized for its ability to transform the lives of its students from every background; a university whose research brings real-world relevance to some of our greatest challenges; a university that not only spans cities, but builds bridges.

In the coming weeks, the USF Board of Trustees will announce a presidential search process that will help us attract a pool of dynamic candidates to build on this momentum. This process will be inclusive and thoughtful, and we will need your help.

We will need your ideas as we design a position profile, and soon we will provide formal opportunities to share your perspectives. We will need your enthusiasm as we begin to recruit nationally. We will need your participation in community forums, online surveys, listening tours and other mechanisms for feedback once we have potential candidates. Throughout this entire process, we are counting on your continued support, advocacy and trust.

After all, USF belongs to all of us.

From the hundreds of thousands of students, alumni and fans who make up the Bull Nation, to our brilliant faculty and researchers working day and night on new discoveries, to the devoted staff who are leading us through a pandemic, to the generous donors and friends who have adopted USF as their own — we are all here because we believe that USF’s best days are ahead of us.

Will Weatherford, former speaker of the Florida House, is chair of the USF Board of Trustees.