At Tuesday’s University of South Florida Board of Trustees meeting, President Steven Currall presented an update on the consolidation process between the Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Sarasota-Manatee campuses.
Legislation passed in 2018 requires all three campuses be under one accreditation by July of next year.
"We’ll be working toward a milestone of early December, which is when the board meets (again), and we’ll vote on the substantive change prospectus that we must submit to the [Southern Association of Colleges and Schools],” he said.
SACS is the regulatory body that USF will have to submit its draft plan to by next March in time to receive the single accreditation.
Currall explained the guiding principles for consolidation, which include:
- Strengthening USF’s stature as a preeminent research university
- Preserving campus identities through a transparent and collaborative process
- Commit to a “students first” philosophy
- Establish a clear, simple, and unified leadership structure
- Assure consistency of high impact research
- Enhance regional economic development
- Optimize the utilization of faculty talent and technology
Student newspaper, The Crow's Nest, reported earlier this month that faculty at USFSP spoke to Currall, expressing concern that their campus is not prioritized by university leadership.
Currall said he's met with faculty at all three campuses, with his focus remaining on establishing how consolidation will affect all students and faculty, along with the communities around them.
“The question I posed to [the faculty] was: How can we think about the future of these two campuses in a way that propels the University of South Florida's further trajectory up and leverages the ecosystems that are in St. Petersburg and Sarasota?” Currall said.
Currall ensured trustees that leadership from all campuses will be included in the organizational structures of each reorganized college under consolidation. He pointed to the separate colleges of business as an example.
“The Muma College (of Business) was the prototype that I put up today… and so it's got representation from people located in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota. That’s the model,” he said.
Trustee Nancy Watkins questioned whether the plan for communication between campus representatives and the board met Florida law, as the current plan includes all contact being filtered through the president.
Currall said the challenge is meeting SACS requirements, while also obeying state law.
“You have put your finger on the intellectual puzzle that we have before us,” Currall replied. “We're deeply committed to both. We will not sacrifice the accreditation of this university. I just want to make that clear.”
Currall said his goal is making sure the consolidation process is beneficial to all three campuses’ individual communities along with the university as a whole.
“We're on a journey here, an extensive journey,” Currall said. “We have a number of milestones yet to come up and today, what I'm trying to deliver to you is an update on what we're thinking so far.”
For more information on the consolidation process, click here.