WUSF's Mark Schreiner recently had the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Sophia Wisniewska, the new Regional Chancellor for USF Saint Petersburg.
During the interview, Wisniewska, a scholar of Russian language and literature who comes to USFSP after eight years as chancellor of Penn State Brandywine, shared her vision for the future of the second largest campus in the USF System.
1. A five-year strategic plan is key, and creating that plan will get underway shortly.
"It's going to involve a lot of people, a lot of dreaming, and hopefully, at the end, result in a lot of very exciting but sensible goals that will position us for the future."
2. Campus size matters.
"We're currently at six thousand (students), depending how you count. Some people think it should be double and triple (that population). Some folks think that what we want to be is a smaller institution that protects this close faculty-student interaction that we have, and that we focus more on niche programs, so it'll be important to have those conversations with a lot of different groups."
3. The College of Business will have a new home...hopefully sooner rather than later.
"We have a very healthy, strong academic program spread over seven different buildings."
"We are immensely grateful for the $5 million we received from the (Florida) Legislature (earlier this year)...but it's a beginning. We really can't do much to really begin the process because the whole building is expected to cost about $27 million. The reality is we probably can't start construction until we have about half of that.
"So I understand that we are at the top of the list for next year's Legislative requests, and we're hoping that the amount of money we receive next year is bigger and enough for us to proceed forward with momentum."
4. USFSP could play a major role in the city's future.
"The proximity of USF St. Petersburg to major employers - everything from Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital to Stanford Research Institute (SRI) to FAA (Albert Whitted Airport) to NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) to the Dali and Chihuly Museums - we're all so close to each other that I think this could be a national laboratory for partnerships and I think USF St. Pete will be smack in the middle of it."
5. Pronouncing "Wisniewska" is as hard as you can imagine.
To welcome the new Regional Chancellor (who joked that she's "single-handedly reviving the Polish community that didn't exist in St. Pete!"), there's a video on USF St. Pete's YouTube page where students and faculty attempt to pronounce her last name, which, by the way, is "wiz-NEH-skuh." We think.