Newly selected Vice President of Student Affairs Jennifer Capeheart-Meningall is joining the staff of USF at a unique time. The campus is evolving, with renovations and newly constructed departments opening at a fast rate.
Meningall will have a variety of duties at USF, including overseeing the Phyllis P. Marshall Center, Student Health Services and Student Government.
Plans are already in motion for the renovation of the Marshall Center, which will become one of the largest student unions in the state after being connected to the existing Marshall Center. Along with the renovations, plans are also set to increase the number of students on campus, another responsibility of the vice president.
“Residence Services will be increased for more students to live on campus and the Marshall Center will be constructed and or renovated,” said Elizabeth Kaplon of Student Affairs. “We will see growth in other departments like Student Health Services and Campus Recreation. As the student body grows, they will need more space.”
Meningall comes to USF from Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tenn. APSU has approximately 8,650 students. USF’s Tampa campus has an enrollment nearly three times that size. Meningall noticed the obvious differences between the universities.
“There will be a tremendous difference,” Meningall said. “Austin Peay is in a smaller suburban area in a military town. USF is a much larger campus in an urban city. The larger student body is going to provide me with the opportunity to fulfill the role in a different way, relying greatly on trying to get out and meet a larger student population and more student organizations and getting to understand the culture of the campus.”
Meningall was selected after a lengthy review process of four final candidates. Meningall was selected not only because of her experience in Student Affairs, but also because of her leadership capabilities.
“I was very impressed with Jennifer during the search process, and I am confident she will be an outstanding leader on behalf of our students,” USF President Judy Genshaft said in a press release. “She has the perfect blend of experiences and leadership to ensure we offer our students top-quality service as we move toward becoming one of the top 50 public research universities in the nation.”
Meningall replaces interim Vice President Kofi Glover, who replaced Harold Nixon when he resigned in June. Glover has more than 30 years of experience with USF and oversaw the department while the search for Nixon’s replacement took place.
“(Glover) was definitely an able person to step in and take the reins for this year,” Kaplon said. “It was a reorganization year for Student Affairs because part of the division was taken over by Academic Affairs. He was very good at transitioning some departments out and keeping the other departments stable.”
Meningall earned her bachelor’s degree from Adelphi University in Garden City, N.Y., and a master’s degree from Long Island University. She also earned a master’s and a doctorate from Columbia University.
She said she is excited about relocating to a larger metro area.
“A part of what drew me to the Tampa Bay area is that I’m from a large urban area in New York City,” Meningall said. “I am looking forward to getting back to a more complex area with a lot more opportunities for diversity, arts and culture. I’m even looking forward to the traffic.”
Meningall intends to leave the same touch on USF that she brought to APSU.
“With Dr. Meningall you can tell how much she really cares about the university and the students,” APSU SG president Zach Pelham said in an article in The Leaf Chronicle, APSU’s student newspaper. “Her availability and willingness to hear ideas and be open are one of the things that gives Austin Peay its success.”
Meningall hopes to duplicate and further her success at USF by making campus life for students her highest priority.
“I believe that what matters on a college campus are the students’ potential to achieve their goals and reach their dreams in and out of the classroom,” she said. “The way we do that collectively as an institution is in the classrooms. The out-of-classroom experience gives them the opportunity to put that work into practice and to learn other things that may not be able to be taught in the classroom, such as leadership development. I believe that educating the whole student is critical and I think that is what will help me join with the faculty and staff here to focus on student development in a sense of learning outside of the classroom.”