USF and Mote Marine Explore New Partnership

TAMPA, FL (Thursday, January 17, 2008) -- University of South Florida President Dr. Judy Genshaft and Mote Marine Laboratory President Dr. Kumar Mahadevan announced today that they are exploring a partnership to consolidate and strengthen the marine science research base anchored in Central and Southwest Florida.

Mote and USF are discussing the formation of a new Direct Support Organization (DSO). The new DSO would contain the present research portfolio of Mote Marine Laboratory and would be designed to support the academic mission of USF by enhancing research and educational opportunities in the marine science field.

While this partnership possibility is extremely exciting – for both institutions and for Florida as a whole – it’s important to note that discussions between Mote and USF are ongoing. A final agreement will have to be approved by Trustees at both partner institutions. State appropriations will also need approval by the Florida Legislature and Gov. Charlie Crist.

Under the plan, Mote’s biologically focused marine research would complement existing strengths in physical oceanography and other areas in USF’s Colleges of Marine Science, Arts and Sciences, Engineering, and Public Health. The direct support organization would become a nucleus for new science initiatives focused on the bigger picture of ocean resources and needs.

“Mote Marine Laboratory has a long history of marine research dating back to its incorporation in 1955,” said Dr. Kumar Mahadevan. “Our efforts have long been focused on creating a better biological understanding of the oceans: of the animals and plants and habitats of our oceans. Forming this Direct Support Organization in collaboration with USF will allow researchers at Mote to work more closely with the University by creating exciting new linkages that focus on answering larger questions affecting ocean health.”

“As one of the nation’s top research universities with a strong College of Marine Science, USF is a natural fit with Mote Marine Laboratory in creating this Direct Support Organization,” said USF President Judy Genshaft. “We’re a young university but we look far into the future, and no research is more important than that which focuses on the health of our oceans and our environment. I believe that by working together through innovative research, we can make a tremendous positive impact on the environment of Florida and the world.”

The joint project will be called the Mote Marine Research Institute at the University of South Florida. Mote and USF have a long history of collaboration, beginning with red tide research in the 1970s and – more recently – through the Joint Center for Coastal Ocean Studies formed in 2006 that allows for a greater emphasis on understanding coastal and ocean physics, chemistry and biology.

The University of South Florida is among the nation's top 63 public research universities and one of 39 community engaged public universities as designated by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. It is one of Florida's top three research universities. USF was awarded more than $300 million in research contracts and grants last year. The University offers 219 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine. The University has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 45,000 students on campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland. USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.

Founded in 1955, Mote Marine Laboratory is an independent nonprofit marine research organization dedicated to advancing the science of the sea through the study of marine and estuarine ecosystems, through the public Mote Aquarium and through an education division that provides unique programs for all ages.