President Judy Genshaft delivered the fall address to a crowd of about 250 students, administrators and faculty in the Phyllis P. Marshall Center Ballroom on Wednesday.
Genshaft captivated the audience by illustrating USF’s resolve in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
Academic Affairs responded by enrolling more than 100 displaced students, Genshaft said.
During this portion of the address, Stephanie Quintero, a student from Tulane University, took a bow in front of the crowd.
Within two days of being evacuated, Quintero had registered for classes towards her degree in biomedical science.
In addition, Quintero’s experience convinced her to remain at USF.
USF’s involvement in Katrina also included free clinics and teaching children how to cope with the disaster and surveillance through the use of unmanned aerial vehicles.
Genshaft also proudly announced the visual and performing arts teaching facility as her number one priority for this year.
Right after this declaration, almost on cue, a small group of students led by School of Music
Director Wade Weast rose up and sang “Hallelujah.”
After the laughter died down, spectators listened attentively as the President dove back into describing several hurdles the University faces before joining the ranks of other top universities nationwide.
“Two years ago, we set out to become one of the nation’s top 50 public research universities,” Genshaft said. “It is on one level a lofty goal, but it is an attainable goal as long as we stay focused.”
Research quality and productivity, faculty and academic programs, student selectivity and achievement and private funding were targeted for improvement.
“USF is going in the right direction,” Genshaft said. “But we must be resilient and continue to adapt to the sometimes unpredictable and external environment.”
According to Genshaft, recruitment requirements have risen from last year, which should help to attract a higher ratio of top students. Average SAT scores are set at 1135, up from last year’s average of 1108, Genshaft said.
And for first-time-in-college students, Genshaft announced the implementation of a new program that will encourage full-time students to graduate on time by taking the classes they need.
According to Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Studies Glen Besterfield, freshmen students who are undecided will be advised three exploratory curriculums in areas geared towards science and technology, liberal arts and entrepreneurship.
“That way, if they go into some of those majors all their courses will be degree applicable,” Besterfield said.
Genshaft also talked about the new Student Union, slated for completion in 2008.
Architects for the new design should sign a contract for the new design by the end of this month, according to Director of the Marshall Center Guy Conway.
In order to improve the quality of research and development, Genshaft emphasized the need for an increase in the number of federal grants.
“They provide a higher indirect recovery rate, which allows us to hire more research faculty, purchase core instruments and fuel our research operations,” she said.
In addition, two new buildings went up in the USF Research Park during the summer.
In the area of faculty and academic programs, this year USF welcomed 156 new faculty members, Genshaft said. Some of the schools these faculty members come from are UC-Berkeley, Duke, Penn State, Johns Hopkins and Yale.
Fund-raising from private sources will also be a large part of USF success in the future.
According to Genshaft, nearly three-fourths of USF’s budget comes from private donations. Last year a record-breaking $53.9 million was raised, largely due to one of the largest gifts in USF’s history from Kiran and Pallavi Patel.
With in-state matching funds, they donated $34.5 million to USF.
In closing, Genshaft mentioned the University’s upcoming 50th anniversary, which will begin in January with a number of events planned.
“And as we prepare to turn 50, I also invite you to take a fresh look at USF,” Genshaft said.
“Consider our accomplishments from the past year. Consider how far we have come in the past 50 years. Then look ahead to what a bright future we have ahead of us.”