Graduate Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay region’s education, business and community leaders launch campaign to improve college achievement.


USF President Judy Genshaft talks about the Graduate Tampa Bay campaign at Monday's meeting. Photo: Eric Younghans | Special to USF News


By Vickie Chachere

USF News


TAMPA, (March 26, 2012) – University of South Florida President Judy Genshaft joined the region’s education and business leaders Monday to publicly launch the Graduate Tampa Bay campaign, an initiative to increase the number of Tampa Bay area residents who have earned college degrees.


The initiative is part of the Talent Dividend, a national competition launched by CEOs for Cities in 2011 to challenge more than 50 U.S. cities to devise creative ways to grow the population of college-educated adults.  Research indicates that half cities’ success lie in per capita income; even modest increases in the number of adults earning higher wages because they have finished their degrees can translate into large economic boosts.


The Tampa Bay region has some 700,000 adults who have taken some college courses, but not earned a degree. Research shows that people with college degrees earn an average of $1 million more in their lifetime than those who do not have post-secondary degrees. College graduates are also more likely to rebound from downsizing in recessions; economists predict 60 percent of future jobs will require a college education.


But the impact of having more degree-holders is significant for all. Every 1 percent increase in the college graduation rate for Tampa Bay area residents translates into more than $3 billion a year in earnings for the region.


“This partnership between our leading institutions signals to the world that we are serious about building a highly-educated workforce that will transform the future of our region, our communities and our families for the better,” Genshaft said.


“We can get there by removing roadblocks that exist with practical, workable solutions. And most importantly, we can empower those who think higher education is just a dream for someone else, and make it a reality for so many more to achieve.”


Graduate Tampa Bay is an initiative of ONE BAY: Lifelong Learning, an initiative of the Tampa Bay Partnership Regional Research and Education Foundation, as well as leaders across various industries, government and community organizations. Graduate Tampa Bay is also aligned with the Tampa Bay Partnerships regional business plan for economic growth, which calls for greater alignment between post-secondary educational institutions and regional employers seeking qualified and highly-skilled employees.


Genshaft joined Hillsborough Community College President Ken Atwater; St. Petersburg College President William Law; Pasco-Hernando Community College President Katherine Johnson; Polk State College President Eileen Holden; St. Leo University President Arthur Kirk and USF Sarasota-Manatee Regional Chancellor Arthur Guilford for the launch. Representing the Tampa Bay Partnership was Dan Mahurin of Sun Trust Bank and John Ramil of TECO.


The efforts also makes the Tampa Bay region eligible to win a $1 million prize from Talent Dividend which will be awarded to the community which raises its population of college graduates by 2013.


The initiative is just one way USF is working to help the region’s residents complete their higher education. For example, last year USF, HCC, St. Petersburg College and Pasco-Hernando Community College  agreed to establish policies to promote student access from the colleges to the university that would make it easier for transfer students to complete their degrees.


And in August, students majoring in business at Hillsborough Community College SouthShore will be able to earn their bachelor's degrees from USF without ever leaving the campus under an expanded cooperative between HCC and USF. The plan is to eventually expand the program to other degrees.


To learn more about Graduate Tampa Bay, click here.