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Ralph Wilcox will step down as USF Provost in 2022

man with white hair in suit and yellow tie looks to the right
WUSF Public Media
Ralph Wilcox says he is stepping down as USF Provost in spring 2022.

Ralph Wilcox, who has been with USF for nearly 20 years, has served as provost since 2008.

The leadership of the University of South Florida is seeing yet another change.

Citing a desire to spend more time with his family, Provost and Executive Vice President Ralph Wilcox has announced that he will step down next year.

USF officials say that the search for a new provost will begin in the spring, with the hope that a replacement will be named shortly after a new university president is hired.

Wilcox, who has been with USF for nearly twenty years, has served as provost since 2008.

In a letter to the USF community, Wilcox said he will continue serving in the position and will assist in the transition for as long as needed.

He will also remain with USF as a professor after he steps down as provost.

“As I reflect on where we are today, I can say with the utmost confidence that USF’s position has never been stronger, especially given our gains in student success, faculty accomplishments and, most recently, consolidation," said Wilcox. "Our national and international stature is stronger than ever, which is a proud testament to the remarkably talented people at USF — our faculty, staff, leadership, students, alumni, donors and friends of the university.”

“I wish to sincerely thank Provost Wilcox for his leadership, commitment and tireless contributions to the University of South Florida’s rise in stature among the nation’s top public universities,” USF Interim President Rhea Law said in a separate message to the community that hailed Wilcox's accomplishments.

“During Provost Wilcox’s tenure at USF, he has demonstrated an extraordinary dedication to student success and academic excellence. His comprehensive approach to student success has made an impact on hundreds of thousands of students.”

Under Wilcox’s leadership, USF has:

  • Increased access, opportunity and diversity — from 61% white student enrollment in Fall 2011 to 47% in 2021;
  • Increased the academic profile of incoming freshmen — from average 3.86 GPA/1188 SAT score in Fall 2011 to 4.18/1297 in Fall 2021, with the number of National Merit Scholars climbing to an all-time high of 62 in 2021;
  • Significantly improved freshmen retention rate —from 85% in 2010-11 to 90% in 2020-21, and nearly eliminated the achievement gap for students of color and socioeconomic status;
  • Increased the 4-year graduation rate — from 36% for the 2007-11 cohort to 62% for the 2017-21 cohort;
  • Improved the 6-year graduation rate — from 52% for the 2005-2011 cohort to 74% for the 2015-21 cohort;
  • Improved the Florida College System transfer student 2-year graduation rate — from 34% for the 2008-10 cohort to 48% for the 2018-20 cohort;
  • Increased graduate degrees awarded annually — from 3,013 in 2010-11 to an all-time high of 4,271 in 2020-21;
  • Decreased average cost (of tuition, fees, and books minus financial aid) for completion of a 4-year degree from $14,490 in 2013-14 to $1,810 in 2019-20 — even as the undergraduate in-state full-time tuition has not changed from $6,410 over the past nine years, and graduate in-state full-time tuition has not changed from $10,428 over the past nine years;
  • Led the state in percentage of undergraduate and graduate degrees awarded in state defined “areas of strategic emphasis” — preparing a pipeline of talented graduates for employment in high-demand, high-skilled and high-paid jobs in the Florida economy;
  • Increased the number of USF students winning competitive national scholarships — from three in 2010-11 to 55 in 2020-21.

In addition, over the past decade, USF has climbed higher in U.S. News and World Report rankings than any other university in the country, from 101st to 46th among public universities.

In 2018, USF became only the third state institution in Florida to be designated as a preeminent research university, joining the University of Florida and Florida State University.

USF is currently searching for a new president to replace Steven Currall, who stepped down in August, just over two years after he took the job.

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