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University Beat

Rhea Law is confirmed as the eighth president of USF

A woman stands between two men. They're standing behind microphones and in front of a green background.
Bailey LeFever
/
WUSF Public Media
Rhea Law, center, was named the University of South Florida president earlier this month in Tampa. She was praised by Board of Trustees vice chair Michael Griffin, left, and chair Will Weatherford, right.

The Florida Board of Governors confirmed Rhea Law in a unanimous vote.  

Rhea Law is definitely no stranger to the University of South Florida.

Due to her extensive experience at USF, the university says Law has a unique perspective to bring to her role as the newly confirmed president — and first alumnus to lead the university.

Florida's Board of Governors on Wednesday confirmed Law — who has spent the past eight months serving as interim president — as USF's next president.

In a university-wide message on Wednesday, Law shared her vision and some of her priorities as president.

"Today's confirmation by the Board of Governors is a recognition of the University of South Florida’s tremendous momentum," Law said. "I am continuously inspired by the dedication of our students, faculty, staff, alumni and others within our community to shaping a better world and changing lives. It’s their passion, commitment and talent that will make the next era for USF our finest yet.”

In the letter, Law outlined some of her immediate priorities, including the hiring of a provost and regional chancellor at the USF St. Petersburg campus, a vice president for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and a vice president for Research and Innovation.

"Our world is changing rapidly," Law said in the letter. "We have never been so connected, and yet there is still immense opportunity to better understand and learn from one another both within the university and the communities we serve. USF can be a catalyst for that understanding: a place where freedom of ideas, expression and academic inquiry flourishes.

"Even as we search for our new Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, we are committed to fostering these values as a part of everything we say and do. In the coming weeks, I will engage a group of community leaders who can help advise us on our strategies and share more of our success stories with the community — as one important step forward."

Law also wrote she will work with Athletics Director and Vice President Michael Kelly and Senior Vice President Jay Stroman to formulate a plan to build an on-campus football stadium.

"I believe that our athletic enterprise is critical to our future, not only for our student-athletes, but for building community and school spirit," Law wrote.

Law previously served as chair of USF's Board of Trustees, worked as a staff member, and graduated with a degree in managementt.

Her experience with USF continues as she is also a founding member of the Board of Directors of the USF Law Alumni Society. She served as a member of the USF Research Foundation Board and was named a 2018 Distinguished Alumna by the USF Alumni Association.

According to a press release, the university has experienced the most transformational legislative session in USF history under her leadership.

The current Board of Governors Chair, Brain Lamb, has also spoken highly of her and her commitment to the university.

“Rhea Law has worked tirelessly for many years to advocate for the University of South Florida and strengthen the entire Tampa Bay region through her commitment to civic engagement and public service,” Lamb said. “Rhea is a proven leader who will continue USF’s trajectory of excellence.”

Law’s experience outside of the university is also expansive. On top of earning her undergraduate degree in management from USF, she also has a terminal degree in law from Stetson University College of Law, where she served as chair of their Board of Overseers and helped to select both a dean of the College of Law and president of the university.

Throughout her career, Law has held multiple leadership roles, including as CEO of Florida law firm Fowler White Boggs. She was also the first honorary commander of the 6th Air Mobility Wing at MacDill Air Force Base and served on the board of directors of the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center.

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