The University of South Florida campus in Tampa. Courtesy photo.

Status update: University secures 'preeminence' label, additional funding

The University of South Florida has joined the big leagues.
By: 
Jul. 6, 2018

The University of South Florida no longer sits at the kids’ table; it’s made the jump to the varsity team.

Or if you prefer your metaphors of the more artistic variety, USF is having its Sally Field at the Academy Awards moment: “I've wanted more than anything to have your respect … I can't deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me!”

USF System President Judy Genshaft. Courtesy photo.

Florida’s Board of Governors does indeed like USF, a fact that was proven last week when it granted the institution “Preeminent State Research University” status.

As a preeminent university, USF now finds itself on equal footing with the University of Florida and Florida State University. The status, long sought after by the administration of USF System President Judy Genshaft, not only recognizes the university’s strong track record of academic achievement and growing prominence on the national stage, but also brings with it approximately $6.15 million in additional funding.

“This validates our efforts over more than a decade to transform USF into a premiere institution of higher education, rivaling peers twice our age,” Genshaft states in a news release.

USF says the funding, which comes from the state budget, will be used to recruit more nationally prominent faculty members and enhance the university’s research programs in areas such as heart health and medical engineering.

The Florida Preeminence program was introduced in 2013 as an incentive for state universities to improve their standing in a wide range of benchmark categories, including graduation rates, student retention rates, research expenditures and the number of patents awarded. USF, according to the release, had been on the cusp of preeminence since 2016. Improving its six-year graduation rate and overall student retention rate helped push it over the top.

Newly preeminent USF drew kudos from the likes of Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, State Rep. Chris Sprowls (a USF alumnus), New York University President Andrew Hamilton and Rhea Law, a USF alumna who chairs the Florida offices of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney.

USF, Law states in the release, “has become a consistent leader in education, health, grants, contracts and patents, community and military outreach and a host of other achievements. USF is one of the largest drivers of innovation in our region and will serve to sustain and propel our economy in the future.”