Administration responds to possible system merger
A bill proposed by Florida’s House of Representatives that could alter the USF system prompted USF System President Judy Genshaft to release a video statement to the student body last Thursday.
The proposed bill would force all three USF campuses — Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee — to operate under a single accreditation by June 30, 2020. The USF Board of Trustees would have until Jan. 15, 2019 to submit an implementation plan to Florida’s Board of Governors.
Concerns arose immediately about how working under a single accreditation would alter USFSP and USFSM’s separate and autonomous identities. Also, its unclear how this would impact USF’s recent pre-eminent status which would afford the Tampa campus more state funding.
In her video, Genshaft explains how the bill may impact the USF system and attempts to assure students that the university campuses will confidently absorb any changes the school may have to make. Also, she said that pre-eminence may not be affected with this possible change.
In an email to The Oracle, university spokesman Adam Freeman said the campuses would work together to ensure little impact is felt by students.
“If this bill becomes a law, minimizing the impact on our students, faculty and staff would be the number one priority,” Freeman said. “We would work with leadership at all three USF System institutions, our Board of Trustees, the Board of Governors, elected officials and community leaders to develop a transition plan that will advance the university’s mission and vision.”
While administrators and students do not yet know what the outcome of this proposed bill will be, anxiety still looms regarding the possible effects on the three campuses.
“Regardless of the outcome, we intend for each USF System campus to continue achieving higher levels of student success and scholarly activity, and as a result we will provide all students with the world-class education they came here to earn,” Freeman said. “We will remain focused on reaching our strategic goals, serving the entire Tampa Bay region and maintaining the strong partnerships we have built in each community.”