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Genshaft Announces USF Reaches the Benchmarks for “Preeminence”

During her annual fall address, USF System President Genshaft also revealed a record research year and a fundraising milestone

TAMPA, Fla. (Sept. 6, 2017) --The University of South Florida in Tampa has attained preeminence, hitting the required number of benchmarks to earn designation as a “preeminent” research university in the State of Florida, USF System President Judy Genshaft announced during her annual fall address Sept. 6 in the Marshall Student Center.

“This is incredible,” Genshaft said, as faculty, staff and students who filled the Oval Theatre applauded the news. “We have turned a well-regarded regional university into one of the top, preeminent, public research institutions in the nation. We have become the university that other institutions look up to as an aspirant peer.”

USF’s most recent data, updated after the summer 2017 semester, shows USF Tampa’s 6-year graduation rate has increased to a level (70 percent) that meets the preeminence standards according to the current Florida law. State universities must meet at least 11 of 12 established benchmarks, which are subject to change in the 2018 Florida legislative session. The Florida Board of Governors must certify all data before officially designating a university as preeminent.

USF System President Judy Genshaft addresses a crowd of faculty, staff and students during her annual fall address.

During the fall address, Genshaft also announced that the university set records in research productivity and fundraising.

For the during the 2016-17 academic year, the USF System attracted $475,163,064 in research grants and contracts. The amount is up from more than $458 million in 2015-16, representing an increase of approximately 3.6 percent.

“It’s not just the dollars attached to our research productivity,” Genshaft stated. “It’s also the way we harness it – applying our creativity to real-world problems and finding practical solutions that have a major impact.”

USF has now met its major milestone goal of raising $1 billion through the Unstoppable campaign. The university will celebrate the accomplishment in November, one year earlier than the original targeted date to meet the goal.

“This is not only extraordinary; it is extremely rare,” Genshaft said, “It says a lot about the passion of our supporters, our university, our students, our alums and our community. We are extremely appreciative."

Furthermore, Genshaft said, USF’s endowment has now reached $441 million, the highest it has ever been. She noted that only two universities in the country founded after 1950 – the University of California San Diego and the University of California Irvine -- have endowments higher than USF’s, highlighting the uniqueness of this achievement.

Among the many accomplishments cited by Genshaft in this year’s fall address, the news that The Times Higher Education World Summit Series has selected USF as the first U.S. site for its Young Universities Summit this June drew a collective “wow” and sustained applause from the audience.

“Last year this conference was held in Brisbane, the prior year in Barcelona, and the year before that in Dublin,” Genshaft said. “This group looked all over the country, on every continent, and they chose USF. We are so proud.”

Genshaft emphasized the importance of working together as a system, and of thinking beyond the campus, to excel in areas of distinction and build upon successes. She pointed to the establishment earlier this year of the USF System Collaborative for Health-Related Programs that brings together health experts from across the system to work on meeting education and workforce needs. One of the first programs resulting from this USF System-led coalition of hospitals, state colleges and community leaders is preparing needed nurses in St. Petersburg with plans to generate more for Sarasota and Manatee counties.

Another example of strength in teamwork has been the opening of a new systemwide Office of Corporate Partnerships, Genshaft said. The office provides a single point of access for private enterprises who want to work with USF as well as new avenues for faculty and students to work with area companies in applying research leading to new discoveries and best practices.

“We know there are other areas of the System that could similarly benefit from this kind of collaboration,” she said. “How else can we work together? How else can we benefit from each other’s strengths?”

In the coming months, Genshaft announced, USF will implement brand and marketing efforts based on a comprehensive study providing insight into how USF can better differentiate itself.

“We are no longer satisfied with the University of South Florida being a ‘best kept secret,’” she said. “Now we are ready to tell our story in a bigger way than ever before… It’s about time our reputation is as strong as our objective performance.”

While inviting the celebration of hard-earned achievements, Genshaft encouraged faculty, students and staff to continue building on USF’s momentum to reach new heights.

“We’re proud of what we’ve done. But our drive is about something greater than ourselves, to keep pushing this university system further than it has ever gone,” Genshaft said. “Remember extraordinary is our new normal. Now we have to reach for the moon. We have the energy, we have the vision, we have the momentum… and we’re just getting started.”

The full text of Genshaft’s speech can be found online here.

-Story by Adam Freeman and Anne DeLotto Baier, and photos by Eric Younghans, University Communications and Marketing
-Video produced by Diamond View Studios

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