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Top 50 goal: the USF "System" includes our campuses.

As the University of South Florida approaches its 50th anniversary in 2006, it has charted a course for the future that will place USF among the nation's top universities and will develop the university into a multi-campus "system" of higher education.


The university's strategic direction comes at an important time for USF Sarasota-Manatee, which recently celebrated its 30th anniversary and will open the a new campus in fall 2006.

Last year, USF President Judy Genshaft set the goal of becoming one of America's top 50 public research universities and identified 18 performance measures that are most important for USF's success. The measures come from the Florida Board of Governors, the Top American Research University rankings and the Association of American Universities. The performance measures have helped each of the university's campuses focus on four key areas: faculty and programs, research quality and productivity, student selectivity and achievement and private support.


"The top 50 will be a tangible indication of the quality of research, instruction and service that USF offers the people of Florida, including those in Sarasota and Manatee counties," Genshaft says. "The new campus in Sarasota-Manatee is a shining of example of linking services to the community."

In August, USF saw two important signs of its progress: The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that USF is one of the nation's fastest growing universities in terms of federal research and development expenditures, and the Princeton Review named USF one of the nation's best institutions for undergraduate education.

As USF develops as a premier national research university, it is evolving into a multi-campus system of higher education. The designation of the USF System became official after approval from the USF Board of Trustees in October 2004 and from the Florida Board of Governors in March 2005.

While the regional system structure is new to Florida, it is common throughout the United States. In the Southeast alone, the vast majority of states have separately accredited, multi-campus university systems. The USF System has looked at several universities as models, including the University of Houston, which has four distinctive, separately accredited campuses.

The USF System provides significant benefits to students, taxpayers and the communities USF serves, including Sarasota and Manatee counties, St. Petersburg, Lakeland and the main campus in Tampa. By coordinating delivery of higher education across four campuses, the USF System provides students with increased access to and choice of a high quality university education. The USF System promises the prestige of a USF degree to students across a rapidly growing region.

"The campus autonomy within the USF System allows students to select a range of university experiences in different environments--from a large national research university to smaller learning communities, each with distinctive programs," Genshaft says.

Academic and fiscal autonomy provides each member campus the opportunity to more effectively meet the needs of the communities it serves. The USF System coordinates these multi-campus missions and operations and assures academic integrity, without the need for expensive, duplicative infrastructure that would be made necessary by four independent universities.

Sarasota-Manatee has a Campus Board to make fiscal decisions and steer the direction at the local level. Jan Smith, the current chairman of the board, is also a member of the USF Board of Trustees. Clyde Nixon is the newest member of the Campus Board and he joins members Lynnette Edwards, Charles Bauman and Cliff Walters.

USF's growth as a system and development into a top national research university comes as USF prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary. The yearlong celebration will kick off in January 2006.

"I am proud of the progress USF has made in such a short period of time," Genshaft says. "As we begin to plan our 50th anniversary, we can look back at our amazing achievements, draw inspiration from them, and look forward with great expectations of what the University of South Florida can be."

By MICHAEL REICH, USF University Relations
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Author:Reich, Michael
Publication:Sarasota Magazine
Date:Nov 1, 2005
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