USF hired Dr. Stephen Portch, vice president of the Pappas Consulting Group, to examine the University and report on where it is lacking. The goal of his research was to provide University administrators with an understanding of where USF stands in achieving the goals of its five-year plan.
Portch, who had been critical of Florida’s State University System in a recent report, delivered his findings to the faculty senate Wednesday.
The news, for administrators, was disconcerting.
Under the flashy exterior of the plan to reach elite status as a university lie dangerous oversights, according to Portch. He cited a lack of infrastructure to support the proposed expansions required to meet certain American Association of Universities’ criteria.
One of the most prominent factors he foundlacking was in regard to technology. The multiple systems being used now do not allow the University to communicate effectively. These patchwork systems, in their current state, do more to delay the work of the faculty than to enhance it.
Any other major additions to the school would be in jeopardy of stunted growth.
As it relates to students, Portch’s most important criticism may have been his concern that the University has neglected its faculty. Portch believes that USF has not put enough emphasis on developing the faculty already in place. Not only does this affect the University’s chances of reaching the next level academically, it exposes University priorities regarding student development.
While the University is trying to establish itself nationally by increasing student housing and building new facilities, its administration has lost focus of its most important resource. A faculty that is fully backed by the administration in all aspects of its work in order to provide students with the best possible education.
By enhancing the education of the students it admits, USF can give graduates a better opportunity for success beyond school. That success, whether in the realm of business, communications or any other field, will bring a favorable face to the University that more construction cannot.
The most frightening statement made by Portch was his assertion that not much has changed at the University in the past three decades. As evidenced in Portch’s findings, impressive grant numbers or flashy new buildings are ultimately a diversion from the issues that truly need to be addressed.