A graphic with the USF seal that says “A Blueprint for a Bold Future: Where Academic Excellence and Opportunity Converge”

The University of South Florida has unveiled its blueprint for the next decade.

The USF Board of Trustees today approved “A Blueprint for a Bold Future: Where Academic Excellence and Opportunity Converge”. The strategic plan sets a focused direction for USF, reinforces the university’s
commitment to the communities it serves and establishes strategic initiatives that
reflect USF’s many strengths.

“We are unveiling a strategic plan that positions the University of South Florida
as the state’s top urban research university, while supporting bold aspirations and
prioritizing our commitment to faculty excellence, student success and world-class
research,” USF President Steve Currall said.

In his letter introducing the plan, Currall notes that the process of charting the
university’s course  began with, “and has been continuously guided by,” the adoption
of USF’s Principles of Community, which emphasize the university’s commitment to inclusion, civility, freedom of expression,
evidence-based deliberations and vigorous debate.

In December 2020, Currall appointed a 19-member USF Strategic Planning Advisory Task Force, composed primarily of faculty members, to help draft the new plan. The task force
collected feedback through five virtual town hall listening forums; interviews, meetings
and listening tours; internal and external surveys; and a strategic renewal website.

The task force and university leadership devoted nearly 200 hours to gathering input
from faculty, staff and students across USF’s three campuses, as well as alumni, donors,
business and community leaders and elected officials.

Charles Stanish, professor of anthropology, and Sylvia Thomas, associate professor
of electrical engineering, served as task force chairs.

Stanish called the experience “really gratifying,” adding that he is proud of his
task force colleagues.

“They came together for the good of the university, no one was parochial,” he said.

A key theme of the plan is USF’s role as an urban research university. It notes that
of the nation’s roughly 4,300 colleges and universities, in 2019, only 160 spent $100
million or more on research. According to the National Science Foundation, that represented
91 percent of all academic research conducted in the U.S. in that year.

Of those 160 institutions, 114 are public universities, and of those, only 42 are
in an urban setting. In other words, 1 percent of America’s institutions of higher
education are public research universities with a main campus set in a metropolitan
area with a population of at least 1 million. USF is in that 1 percent.

“Urban research universities, such as USF, are indispensable intellectual engines
for addressing the challenges of the future,” Currall writes in his introductory letter.

The new plan highlights seven strategic initiatives: Analytics and Data Science: Integrating
USF Digitally; Design, Arts and Performance; Global and National Security; Health,
Society and Biomedical Science; Social Justice and Human Rights; Sustainability, Environmental
and Oceanographic Sciences; and Synthetic Biology.

Stanish emphasized the importance of the feedback received by the task force in crafting
the initiatives, noting that they “emerged from our consultative process.”

There also are 11 institutional core commitments: Faculty excellence; student success;
staff distinction; diversity, equity and inclusion; operational excellence; athletics;
research support; institutional infrastructure; the value of the arts; sustainability;
and engagement and outreach.

The 49-page document identifies two key aspirations: Advance USF toward membership
in the Association of American Universities, composed of 66 leading research universities
in North America; and reach the top 25 of public universities in U.S. News & World
Report’s annual ranking. USF has ranked among the top 50 public universities in the
nation in each of the last two years.

USF will seek Florida Board of Governors’ approval of the strategic renewal plan at
its Sept. 1 meeting.

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