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Column: Make the most of USF experience

We return to campus after a long summer with a renewed enthusiasm for the future of USF and the futures of each of our students.

Welcome back to the greatest campus ever.

This year, we will continue to build strengths as a national research university, as a community resource and as a place of excellent academic instruction. These strategic directions – combined with dynamic student life on campus – have direct benefits for each student at USF. I encourage you to make the most of this year.

You are returning to a school that has a growing reputation as a national research university. When our final numbers are tallied for 2001-02, we expect to break $200 million in research contracts and grants. Research funded by these grants means that the latest information is taught in our classrooms. It means that students aren’t just taught by lecture and textbook; they participate in solving real-world problems while learning basic and applied knowledge.

And as we grow as a national research university, so do the learning opportunities for students. A great example of this is our College of Engineering’s research experience for undergraduate students, which allows students to be paid while working for and learning from top faculty in cutting-edge, high-tech fields.

You are returning to a university that, more than ever before, incorporates the community into the learning experience. Community partnerships are found in every department on campus. With our new Center for Scholarship in Action, we are seeking out even more partnerships. These provide an opportunity for students to learn by working on real-world issues and by providing service to the community.

You are also returning to a university where academic excellence is the foundation for all of its accomplishments. We have one of the smartest and most diverse student bodies in USF’s history. This is reflected in our decision to create an Honors College to replace our honors program. We are also offering students even more educational opportunities this semester with new programs in marine biology, special education, secondary education, creative writing and other disciplines.

Student life at USF is more dynamic today than ever before. New residence halls have transformed USF into a 24-hour campus, and we’re continuing to make progress. We’ve broken ground on new Greek housing and Maple Hall. Our athletics programs are developing as well, with the Bulls football team entering Division I-A and a new athletic training facility scheduled to break ground this year. And we’re taking significant steps this year to nurture diversity on campus. We’re conducting a climate survey and implementing a plan to ensure that our campus culture embraces diversity and shared respect as one of our key strengths.

Whether through student life, academic programs, community partnerships or research, USF provides our students with incredible opportunities. During 2002-03, I hope each of you will seek out ways to maximize your experience at USF. These are the experiences that create lasting memories and prepare you for a successful future.

And your future begins now.

Judy Genshaft is the university president.