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USF President Looks Back At 2016, Ahead To 2017

Mark Schreiner
WUSF 89.7 News
USF System President Judy Genshaft speaks at her State of the University address in Sept. 2015.

University of South Florida System President Judy Genshaft sat down with University Beat's Mark Schreiner to talk about some of the school's 2016 highlights and to look ahead at 2017.

You can hear the interview by clicking on the link above. Here are some highlights:

Emerging Preeminence
During the summer of 2016, USF became the first state public university to achieve "emerging preeminent" status. The designation came from meeting nine of 12 performance metrics set by the State University System Board of Governors, including national rankings, annual research expenditures and average GPA. USF met nine of those standards.

"It's a distinction which comes along with $5 million, recurring, of new funding from the legislature, and essentially, it's to build on excellence," Genshaft said. "It's to bring the best, the brightest faculty with resources that really establishes uniqueness at our university, so we were very pleased to achieve this goal."

Fall 2016's Freshman Class
"We were able to enroll our most academically accomplished freshman class ever," Genshaft boasted. "On the Tampa campus, the average SAT score was 1226, ACT score 28 and a GPA of 4.08."

On-campus Football Stadium?
At the Dec. 15, 2016, press conference introducing new head football coach Charlie Strong to the USF community, Strong spoke about how an on-campus football stadium would be a boost to the program. Genshaft said a feasibility study is currently being conducted by The Beck Company.

"This (study) is whether or not a stadium should be built, where would it be built, how large would it be, and how would it be funded, what amount of money would be required to achieve a stadium on the campus," Genshaft said. "So we're looking into it with due diligence and we'll see what happens."

Morsani Medical School in Downtown Tampa
Construction on the new building that will house the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine and USF Health Heart Institute is scheduled to begin in Tampa in 2017, but funding for the almost $153 million structure remains a minor concern.

"We believe that the state money will definitely be there - it's how it's allocated (by lawmakers) that will be very important," Genshaft said. "If bonding occurs, then we may be able to receive the full amount that we're seeking, which is $33 million. If bonding does not occur in the House and Senate, then it would probably be about half of that and take two years."

New Buildings to Open on the USF Tampa & St. Pete Campuses
Both the Lynn Pippenger Hall, the new home of the USF St. Petersburg Kate Tiedemann College of Business, and the first section of "The Village," USF Tampa's new student residence complex, are scheduled to open in 2017.

"(Pippinger Hall) will open for classes on Jan. 9 and the ribbon-cutting celebration will take place on January 17," Genshaft said. "It's beautiful, it's an exciting building and very much needed."

"The Village is set to open in two phases: the first will open in Fall 2017 and the second a year later," she added. "It will house 2,000 students and will also include new dining options, new fitness centers, wellness facilities, a swimming pool, and, not as a part of The Village project, but as a separate project right next to The Village, will be our new Publix grocery store."

Unstoppable Campaign to Reach Its End
"I see larger, greater heights than ever before," Genshaft said. "We are going to be celebrating a huge, huge milestone - we will have reached a billion dollar fundraising goal (the USF: Unstoppable campaign). This is so unusual for a university that was founded in the 1950s, rarely do you see public universities achieve that large of a goal, but the University of South Florida is not one that stands by and lets things happen."

Genshaft added that the goal will probably be reached in fall 2017.

Mark Schreiner is the assistant news director and intern coordinator for WUSF News.