USF architect Gift resigns

The director for USF’s Facilities Planning Construction Projects is resigning to pursue a lifelong dream.

Steven Gift will step down at the end of the semester to become a partner in the Tampa office of the consulting firm Hanbury, Evans, Wright, Vlattas & Co. The company supervises construction projects on college campuses.

Ronald Hanke, associate director for USF Facilities Planning, will serve as interim director until a replacement is found.

Gift said he has a long history of working with universities.

“I’ve been working on the public sector side for the past 26 years,” Gift said. “I worked first at Virginia Tech, and then continued on at USF for about eight years.”

Gift said when he first joined the university eight years ago, USF was a much different place. Gift said there were various different projects that helped transform the campus.

Central to this transformation was the implementation of the Greenway, MLK Plaza, Sessums Mall, the various housing initiatives and other academic projects. Gift said projects were meant to adhere to USF’s mission.

“It’s always been about the academic mission of the university, which is that of helping the students,” Gift said. “At the end of the day, we are here to serve (the students) so we can make the teaching and service initiatives come alive.”

Before he came to USF, Gift said he had aspirations of joining the consulting firm.

Gift said the work he has done with universities will provide him with an advantage in his new position.

“Throughout my years here, I have gained a true understanding of what a partner will want to give to a consultant at a university,” Gift said. “I believe this will allow me to provide a higher level of service.”

Gift said his resignation had nothing to do with business negotiations with the USF Board of Trustees. Dick Beard, chairman for the Board of Trustees, did not return repeated phone calls.

Michael Reich, director for USF media relations, said he had spoken with Beard who said that he did not know the reason for Gift’s resignation and said that it came as a surprise to him.

Leaving his current position was not an easy decision, Gift said.

“The greatest problem in making the decision to leave a place is the relationships you have built and the work you leave unfinished,” Gift said.

Hanke said working with Gift was a great experience for the staff of facilities planning.

“Personally, it was a very rewarding experience,” Hanke said. “He was a mentor to the staff of Facilities Planning, and I have personally learned a great deal with him.”

Ray Gonzalez, an architect project manager for Facilities Planning, said Gift looked at projects with a grand vision in mind.

“He always looked at the projects for what they could do for the campus as a whole and didn’t just really focus on the one project at a time,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez said Gift’s mindset will carry on through the remaining staff.

“We are losing an asset, but I think (Gift) has already left that type of professional mindset with that staff that remains,” Gonzalez said.

Gift said his experience at USF is something he will always cherish.

“It has been a wonderful experience (at USF) and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”