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Only the Beginning: Diversity is one of USF’s greatest strengths - recent awards help spotlight success

The University of South Florida (USF) System remains a national model for attracting and retaining the most diverse students and faculty, and for defining best practices for supporting, mentoring, training and elevating those striving to advance, teach and lead. But we are not stopping there.

As one of the nation’s most diverse institutions, the USF System continues to garner national attention for its accomplishments in diversity that help create dynamic and inclusive working and learning environments.

The effort is far-reaching, impacting students, faculty, staff, and even into the greater business and civic communities.

Most recently, USF earned the Retention Excellence Award for its student success program that takes a case management approach to identify and serve at-risk students, encouraging them to succeed and persevere through to graduation. This award follows several other national accolades for USF, including a 2016 ranking by Eduventures as the nation’s top performer in “Overall Student Success” and a top ranking in March 2017 when Education Trust positioned USF as number one in Florida and number six nationally for eliminating the gap in graduation rates on the basis of race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status.

These awards showcase USF’s student-centric programs and are the result of a concerted effort of several components and multiple teams, including: real-time analytics for identifying students at risk, adding academic advisors with focused assistance to students who may be struggling; redesigning gateway courses; creating a SMART Lab and increasing library hours, expanding study spaces, writing and tutoring assistance and creating Living and Learning Communities.

That similar proactive approach is also available to faculty, who have access to several programs that support minorities as they navigate academia, seek tenure and promotion, engage in active research, and excel in their careers.

Also, for those in the business community looking to engage with the USF System, a Supplier Diversity Program was recently launched to ensure that businesses owned by minorities, women and veterans have ample opportunity to compete for contracts to provide goods and supplies, construction services and professional services throughout the USF System.

In April, Terrie Daniel joined USF as the founding leader of the newly formed Supplier Diversity Program, an effort that will expand, monitor and make more transparent the equal access to sourcing and purchasing opportunities across the USF System. The effort includes active tracking, a committee to help streamline operations and identify additional areas of opportunities, and several events that bring vendors to campus for information and networking. There is also a strong internal education component that will help communicate within USF about Daniel’s team, the Supplier Diversity Program, and its initiatives.

College and university campuses have a special role in society as places where the ideals of equality, inclusion, acceptance and free discourse are encouraged to thrive. The USF System is a national model for embracing those ideals and is actively implementing sustainable changes that will maintain and strengthen our forward momentum in this area.

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