USF reaches preeminent status

The achievement was announced Thursday morning and comes with over $6 million in annual state funding. ORACLE PHOTO/CHAVELI GUZMAN

As made official Thursday by Florida’s Board of Governors, USF will join UF and FSU as the state’s three preeminent public universities.

Just what does preeminence mean?

In a letter sent to alumni Thursday, System President Judy Genshaft outlined the meaning of the achievement.

“The Florida Preeminence program rewards high-achieving universities based on 12 metrics, including graduation rates, student retention rates, research expenditures and the number of patents awarded,” Genshaft said in the letter. “In order to earn Preeminence, a university must meet or exceed at least 11 of the 12 benchmarks.  Only two other Florida universities have achieved this status – until today.”

Perhaps the most notable aspect of the preeminent title comes in the form of over $6 million in annual state funding heading USF’s way.

Genshaft mentioned in the letter that the funding will be used to better the university’s research, student education, partnerships and community, though no specifics were outlined.

Gov. Rick Scott and state legislators first introduced the concept of preeminence in 2013. It was a strategic decision in an attempt to elevate some of Florida’s top universities to the national recognition stage.

As far as what is next, in a message to The Oracle university spokesman Adam Freeman said preeminent status is not the end for USF’s ambitions.

“USF will continue to focus on raising graduation and retention rates, increasing research funding, attracting top students and faculty to the university, and moving up in national rankings,” Freeman said. “Being a Preeminent university, the highest designation a state university in Florida can receive, will support those goals.”