Text of the 2012 Fall Address by USF President Judy Genshaft on Sept. 19, 2012

University of South Florida

Office of the President


Text of President Judy Genshaft Fall Address Sept. 19, 2012


Welcome. Welcome to all of you here today and all of you watching online. I hope you’ve been seeing the photos from all over the University of South Florida System playing on the screen today. Those photos show the dedication of our students, the energy of our faculty and staff and the dynamism of our institution.

Recently, one of our friends talked about USF as the “American Dream” university. Well, think about it. There are many ways that we ARE the American Dream University, thanks to you. We ARE a microcosm of America, especially because we are located in a large metropolitan area. We ARE the university of hard working students challenged by financial realities, and of first generation students pursuing the aspirations of their families. We ARE the university that provides creative opportunities for the best and the brightest. And we ARE the university of scientists and scholars solving real problems for the entire globe. That means we do indeed change lives. And that is why it is an interesting thought – that USF is in fact the American Dream University.


We had a great many challenges this past year. I want to thank every one of you for being part of the team that made a critical difference to our success. Today, I want to describe some of the high points of the year. And I want to indicate how I see the next year unfolding. I will touch on all of our institutions, and I will speak to the new strategic plan for the Tampa campus.

Every year I believe we are excited and proud of how fast this university has shot up in the national and global rankings. These are not just numbers. It is the spirit and passion of each of you that makes those rankings powerful.

This year is no different.


- Because of the hard work of our faculty and the importance of our research, this year USF has joined the elite top 50 of public AND private American universities in federal research.

Let me tell you what this means. The National Science Foundation collects all the research expenditures funded by the Departments of Defense, Energy, Education, NASA, the National Institutes of Health and the NSF itself. And they rank the universities. In their last ranking, USF is among the top 50 for this first time. So that means, give us room Johns Hopkins, USF is here. Give us room NYU and Michigan. USF is here. Give us room Duke. USF is in this elite group. There are only two universities in the top 50 in the state of Florida, and the other one is 100 years older.


Now, that ranking was based on federal expenditures. But today I have an exciting announcement to make about our total contracts and grants. This past academic year, total awards at the USF System broke the 400-million-dollar ceiling. As of this very week, we can announce that USF hit an unprecedented 411-million, 61-thousand and 232-dollars in total contracts and grants. YOU, all of you, earned that 411-plus-million.  


It’s no surprise that the research at our American Dream university has grown so fast. It is because our research seeks solutions, right here, right now. That is why we’re internationally known at USF Health in a variety of areas. And we’re especially known for the work of Jeff Krischer’s team. Through his NIH grants, Dr. Krischer is the highest funded investigator in the world, seeking solutions to auto-immune disease, rare diseases and diabetes.


Our focus on the real world means we’re leaders in marine science. In solar power and engineering. In aging studies and education. In urban planning and transportation. In public health and nursing. In the arts and the economy.  In bio-engineering and chemistry – to name only a few.

- And because we focus on real world solutions, for the second year in a row, USF inventors make us among the top ten of all universities in the world for earning United States patents. To achieve this two years in a row is phenomenal, and I want to credit Paul Sanberg, our Vice President for Research and Innovation, who has encouraged invention and launched the National Academy of Inventors right here at USF.


In fact, in two weeks I will speak to a conference organized by the White House on “The Innovative and Entrepreneurial University.” The invitation praises the University of South Florida as a national model of innovation because of our entrepreneurship program, our success in gaining patents, and because of our National Academy of Inventors. The conference is sponsored by the Secretary of Commerce, who just today is announcing a USF-led regional partnership has won a one-million-dollar grant to support new web and mobile app ventures. This “i6” project is designed to launch new companies and create hundreds of high-wage jobs, and USF is at the center of it.


You often hear that Florida says it’s open for business. Well, what I say is USF IS OPEN FOR INNOVATION.


- Our commitment to veterans is another powerful highlight for the University of South Florida System. We have more than 2,100 veterans among our students, which is why we just opened the Veterans Achievement Center in the historic Allen Building on the Tampa campus. As one veteran said, it’s a place to call home. And at the same time, our research with Draper Laboratory and the College of Nursing is finding new ways to diagnose and treat post traumatic stress. Both medicine and nursing are part of national initiatives to change how veterans receive health care. All of this service to veterans is why USF is ranked as the fifth most friendly university for veterans.

- We are now THE 12th coolest university in the nation, according to the Sierra Club. Yes, this is a ranking we should be proud of, because it is based on our strong curriculum for sustainability. In fact, the United Nations has just made our Patel School of Global Sustainability the location for what is called an Urban Futures Research Hub, the FIRST in North America. That means WE are going to have a hand in designing tomorrow’s cities.

This is a critical moment in USF’s history. We are about to launch the strategic plan for the Tampa campus, the third since we gained our own Board of Trustees. In 2001, that board and a large group of people on and off campus built the first strategic plan. That plan spanned 2002 to 2007 and focused on becoming a Research One university. It was an incredible success. As you know, during that period of time, USF was the fastest growing university in the nation in federal research expenditures. 

The next strategic plan began in 2007, and ends this year. This second plan was more comprehensive, and even more ambitious. It balanced research with measures of accomplishment in learning and education. We set a difficult goal in 2007, to become eligible for membership in the elite university group, the Association of American Universities, or AAU.


We did this to benchmark ourselves against the best, on a full range of measures, from research to education.


What those measures show is that we are on the right trajectory. At the September Board of Trustees meeting, we highlighted some of the successes in education that came from that plan:


- We have brought in our most academically talented freshman class ever.

- We have the largest Honors College in the state, with an average SAT of 1355.

- We have mandated freshman housing and built living and learning communities on campus.

- We have the largest and most impressive list of student awards, including Goldwaters, Marshalls, Udalls, Tillmans and Fulbrights.

- We have established the critical balance of 75 percent undergraduates and 25 percent graduate students.

- We have recruited and retained intellectual talent. We have drawn top notch people to the USF System.

- We’ve made the Tampa campus look like a true university campus. Aesthetics are important, including the new entrance to the Library.

- And we are rebuilding our Library as a true 21st century learning center, including our new SMART laboratory.

As we evaluate the last five years, it is clear that the numbers tell our story, and we have done very well. It was very important that in this plan we introduced measures for our own accountability. We now have a dashboard of metrics, of rich data, to measure our success, which has become a national model.


At the same time, the USF System has evolved. We now have strategic plans for the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee. As you know, both institutions have achieved their own SACS accreditation.

So now on the Tampa campus, it’s time to launch the third strategic plan. This is the plan that will establish USF as a “global research university dedicated to student success.”

This Fall, we will design, envision and budget our future. I believe it is going to be a creative, challenging and powerful five years.

Most importantly, we will see a national model for student success at USF. I believe it is the integration of experience and knowledge that will define American higher education. And it will define the USF System.

We have already launched the nation’s most comprehensive student success initiative under the leadership of Provost Ralph Wilcox. As part of it, we are creating a seamless model of engaged, experiential and online learning environments.

- We will integrate learning inside the classroom with powerful learning experiences outside of the classroom.


- We will continue to engage our students with their communities, here and around the world.


- We will integrate this engaged learning with online learning.

- We will ensure our students pursue careers with the talent and knowledge to change the world.


- And we will build a new web presence for the university. Everyone coming to our web pages must see their path to success at USF. The initiative to build an integrated digital presence is one of my highest priorities. Everyone coming to our webpages, our Facebook, our social media, our apps, our CANVAS, must see a clear path to success.

I further anticipate that the USF System will build new partnerships here and around the globe that will redefine the modern, global university. These partnerships will widen our research and give our students the practicums, co-ops and internships to success in the new knowledge economy. You see these partnerships everywhere at USF, including the one highlighted on our magazine cover with Neilsen. These extend locally, nationally and internationally.

During the past spring and summer, a drafting committee has been building this strategic plan. This Fall it will be discussed at Town Halls throughout the campus. You will each get a chance to contribute, to debate and to shape how we see ourselves in the next five years.

As you look around the state and nation, you will find an intense debate about the future of higher education. As I participate in this debate on national boards, I am struck by how much the USF model has the answer. Whether it is STEM, or online, or engaged learning, or technology, USF has the answer.


Most importantly, we hear the call for graduates who can build America’s knowledge economy. That’s what we do here. The USF model blends knowledge with engaged learning. A USF degree means that our business students are understanding sustainability. Our engineering students are learning entrepreneurship. Our literature students are mastering critical thinking. Our arts students are graduating with skills like visual literacy. Our medical students are learning teamwork as well as empathy.


I could continue this list for a long time. This is what our students love about USF. It’s a place to create yourself. And it’s a place where you can connect with the world.


Our USF World initiative is creating the modern global university under the leadership of Senior Vice President Karen Holbrook. Here’s a key number. We counted 914 faculty members in the USF System who are engaged internationally in 79 counties. Those faculty are making a difference everywhere in the world.

In addition, our USF-INTO initiative has been stunningly successful in bringing international students to join the diversity of our students at USF itself. 

We are also creating a future for the Tampa Bay region as we build partnerships among the institutions of the USF System. USF St. Petersburg and USF Sarasota-Manatee have exciting and bold strategic plans that expand access for our students and citizens, with differentiated missions.

In a new milestone, U.S. News just named USF St. Petersburg as 30th among the best regional colleges in the south. I hope you will visit the new University Student Center and Residence Hall at USF St. Petersburg. The substantial increase in enrollment means that residence hall is already overflowing.


We’re also enjoying enrollment growth at USF Sarasota-Manatee. Its newly renamed College of Hospitality and Technology Leadership speaks to its vision. Our students want to learn leadership, and crossing the platforms of high tech and hospitality will create the talent the state needs. In addition, the new partnership with Mote Marine Laboratory will open new science experiences for our students. I must mention that we’re proud of the new crew team at USF Sarasota-Manatee.

Last year, I told you that the USF Lakeland campus would either be part of the USF System or that we would be good neighbors in helping a new university grow. As you know, we saw an intense debate over the future of that campus all last year. I said repeatedly that our students should remain harmless, and in fact we are currently in a teach-out to ensure they can graduate with USF degrees.

What we also saw was an outpouring of very powerful support for our USF. All of your efforts to protect us from an unfair budget cut were unbelievably gratifying and absolutely successful. Thank you to everyone who fought for this university. You truly made a difference.

The results of the legislative session meant that all of Florida’s universities absorbed an unprecedented cut of 300-million-dollars. That’s why we’re holding to a hiring and spending freeze for the Tampa campus, with exceptions given only by the senior vice presidents and myself.

I have often characterized the USF System as conservative with its finances, but creative with its ideas. We need those ideas even more today. We recognize that our direct state support has dropped between 40 and 50 percent during the years of recession. That means that for the first time, this new strategic plan will be tied to a complete rebuilding of the Tampa campus budget. This rebasing will proceed over the next two years led by our Chief Operating Officer, Colonel John Long.


The new strategic plan for Tampa, which captures our mission and our values, must now drive our financial decisions. As the strategic plan conversation moves ahead, you will see careful and transparent actions to ensure our financial future and to find new revenues to support our academic values and our academic mission.

My last prediction about the next five years is that we’ll see partnerships that support our missions of research, service and learning. The USF model will be based on those partnerships.

I have to give credit to a couple who have inspired me as I’ve thought about partnerships -- partnerships with our students, with businesses, with donors, and with our own community.

A few years ago, we held a roundtable on the future of the University of South Florida. One of the participants stayed up late the night before preparing his remarks, which he wrote out on yellow legal paper. In his talk that day, Frank Morsani spoke eloquently of a new relationship between this university and the economic and social environment in which it lives. This year, Carol and Frank Morsani made a legacy gift to the University of South Florida’s College of Medicine, bringing their total contribution to USF close to 50-million-dollars.

As a result, we were honored to name the Morsani College of Medicine as a thank you to their faith, their inspiration and their challenge to us.

When Frank Morsani first talked about that gift, he called USF Health an incubator of ideas. Over the course of the year, we’ve seen those ideas blossom.
- In March, we opened CAMLS, where I firmly believe the future of healthcare will be designed.
- The county and state have supported the launch of a new initiative in predictive medicine around genetics and the heart.
- And we are re-imagining how a community can create its own public health in The Villages, the large retirement community. We just completed a survey in The Villages returned by 35,000 individuals, the largest study of older Americans ever.

Today, I’m delighted to announce that Dr. Steve Klasko, as Senior Vice President of USF Health, is launching a new initiative.

Given the growing pace of hospital consolidations and healthcare changes, Dr. Klasko and I will be presenting to our board of trustees an exciting proposal that will represent a new form of hospital-university collaboration.


This new entity, titled the USF HEALTH SYSTEM, is a vehicle for creative partnerships between hospitals and the University of South Florida. This is in addition to our existing relationships, including Tampa General Hospital and others.


The exciting first step is that Lakeland Regional Medical Center will be working with its board to join USF as a member of the USF HEALTH SYSTEM.


This means we will work together to create as many as 250 new residency positions at Lakeland Regional. As a result, USF may soon have the largest residency program in the state of Florida, and the most diverse in terms of specialties.

The real winners in this partnership will be patients. Our state needs doctors prepared to evolve with our population, and this hospital partnership will do exactly that.


Let me tell you about Lakeland Regional Medical Center, which has 851 beds. It treats 165,000 people in its emergency room, making it the busiest emergency department in the state.

The hospital’s President and CEO, Dr Elaine Thompson, is with us today. She has led teaching hospitals around the country, and deeply values the role of an academic medical center in transforming a community. She will join our leadership team in creating this new partnership.


I’d like to acknowledge Dr. Elaine Thompson. Thank you Elaine.

In addition to this new partnership, there are many more. Our friends and our community have stepped up to support this great university in new and powerful ways.

One important key to our financial success is the investment of our community, our friends and our partners. Our friends recognize that the USF System is the incubator of ideas for the future, and the recovery of our economy. I especially want to highlight and thank the Tampa Bay Lightning for sponsoring our exciting new MBA in sports and entertainment. The Lightning have created a model for engaged learning for our students. They have been fantastic partners.


It appeared impossible years ago, but we are now closing in on the record goal of a 600-million-dollar comprehensive campaign. When we hit that milestone, Senior Vice President Joel Momberg will be able to take a weekend off.

Only a month after the excitement of the Olympics, I have to say it feels as though the Olympics is played out every day right here in USF Athletics. We see that excitement from the spectacular new facilities on the Tampa campus,  from our newly renovated Sun Dome, to the waters of St. Petersburg and Sarasota. The integration of athletics into our academic programs is remarkable, thanks to Athletic Director Doug Woolard.

Years ago, we realized that every time someone said the University of South Florida System couldn’t do something, we did it. That’s why we earned the reputation of being Unstoppable, and why I continue to believe this university system is unstoppable.

What all of you do is create a path to success. You create a path to success for our undergraduate students seeking to grow. You create a path to success for our graduate students, who are becoming the CEO’s of their own lives. You create a path to success in curing disease and expanding knowledge. You make innovation and creativity and critical thinking possible. This university … THIS top 50 research university … with over 411-million of research … IS the path to success. And it IS the American dream. Thank YOU for making this dream a success.