Global Leaders at USF

Sir Steve Smith of England and Italian entrepreneur Gabriella Ganugi to receive recognition during commencement exercises.


By Entela Balliu

Special to USF News


TAMPA, Fla. (May 3, 2012) — Two champions of international higher education — one a U.K. academic recognized by Queen Elizabeth II for exemplary accomplishments in international leadership and global relations, and the other an architect and “extraordinary female entrepreneur” from Florence, Italy — are this year’s President’s Global Leadership Award recipients at the University of South Florida.


Professor Sir Steve Smith, since 2002 the vice-chancellor and chief executive of the University of Exeter, U.K., and Gabriella Ganugi, founder of Palazzi Florence Association for International Education, and will be recognized by USF President Judy Genshaft during spring commencement exercises May 4-5 on the Tampa campus.

(Complete Commencement information here.)

The President’s Global Leadership Award is the highest recognition the university bestows to individuals for their contributions and accomplishments in international affairs.

Sir Steve is being acknowledged for his extraordinary efforts to advance international higher education collaboration and, in particular, for expanding academic and research partnerships between the University of Exeter and the University of South Florida. Only days after the presentation, 16 students from USF will embark on a summer study experience to Exeter, an institution begun as an art school in 1855 now risen to world renown for its programs in business, engineering, mathematics and physical sciences, life and environmental sciences, international studies and medicine.

In March, the university accepted an invitation to become a member of the Russell Group of leading research-oriented UK universities. The Sunday Times of London characterizes Exeter as one of nine universities which form England's unofficial "Ivy League,” due to the high academic attainment of its entrants. The university was named the Times Higher Education University of the Year 2007-08 and has retained a top 10 position in national surveys ever since.

Under Sir Steve’s leadership the University of Exeter and USF have collaborated in many global academic partnerships including receiving one of just 37 seed grants from the British Council UK-US Partnership Fund. The grant has resulted in faculty engineers at both institutions creating multiple initiatives, notably around research in water systems. Other alliances across the two universities feature faculty research in special education, exercise science, anthropology, business, and sociology.

A local Tuscan girl who grew up to found an academic consortium of higher learning institutions in the historic center of Florence, Italy, Ganugi earned Educator of the Year honors from the Association of Italian American Educators (AIAE) in 2010, on the heels of a special award from the Florence Chamber of Commerce for extraordinary female entrepreneurs.

In addition to her extensive lecturing, writing and publishing schedule (she is the author of 16 books on Italian cuisine), Ganugi is the creator of Ganzo, Fly, Fedora and FAIR, the cultural association cum restaurant cum gallery run by students and faculty of the Apicius International School of Hospitality in Florence, which she also founded.

Hailed as the culmination of cultural crossovers, culinary innovation, and open spaces for artistic events in the region regarded as the birthplace of the Renaissance, Ganzo is where modern day students, native Florentines and members of international communities throughout Florence meet to “go beyond classroom learning by promoting … interaction with the convergence of the multicultural societies in the city of Florence” and “to redefine the idea of sustainability by rethinking how services and structures enhance local economies and culture through a respectful balance of technology, innovation, and tradition.”

Through Dr. Ganugi’s leadership, USF has had a long-standing relationship with Palazzi Florence Association for International Education, sending more than 140 USF students to study at Palazzi during the past two years.