From breakfast with the research faculty, to catching up with Student Government (SG) leadership, to strapping on a hard hat and touring the construction site of the new USF Health Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute building in downtown Tampa — President Steve Currall had a full first week as president, to say the least.
During his first week on campus, Currall made an effort to not only introduce himself to the Tampa campus but at St. Pete and Sarasota-Manatee as well.
Currall’s first initiative as president was to embark on a listening tour. In his welcome message, he stated that traveling to the three USF campuses will help him to better understand “our shared values, competitive differentiators and strategic opportunities.”
In an interview with The Oracle, Currall said he hopes to understand the energy on campus.
“I made a commitment to see all three campuses because I felt it was important to convey to everybody that I see USF as a unitary university and that we will find a way to align the programs,” Currall said.
As president, Currall said he would like to understand USF’s culture by creating relationships with students on campus.
“I look forward to working with SG and interacting with students in more informal settings, that would be great,” Currall said.
In order to make this connection with students, he decided to move into the Lifsey House. This makes him the second USF president to reside there, following Betty Castor and her husband.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for me to learn about the campus and be fully embedded in the campus community,” Currall said. “The main thing was that my wife liked it.
“It was a pretty easy decision, actually.”
The Lifsey House was built in 1993 and occupies the lot near Fowler Avenue and LeRoy Collins Boulevard. Castor lived in the 10,000-square-foot home from 1994 to 1999.
“It needed some love, it still does,” Currall said.
Currall said construction was done to the residential area on the second floor prior to his June 10 move-in date.
Before being elected USF president, Currall was the provost and vice president of academic affairs for three years at Southern Methodist University in Texas.
The thethree-campus atmosphere is not foreign to Currall since his previous university operated with satellite campuses as well.
Through his experiences, Currall believes that he can add a new perspective to the future of USF.
“I’ve been at a number of other universities that were public, private and overseas so hopefully I will be able to add some ideas,” Currall said. “We need to be committed to both research excellence and teaching excellence because great universities can do both.”
Looking ahead, Currall has created some new ideas indeed for his first 100 days.
Some of his main goals during his tenure orientate around fundraising, research and making USF a top 25 public university in the U.S.
Currall announced that he will be searching for a new senior vice president for advancement and CEO of the USF Foundation.
Current CEO of the USF Foundation Joel Momberg will be retiring effective Oct. 31. Last year, Momberg helped raise $1.1 billion for USF’s “Unstoppable Campaign.”
Currall plans on creating a task force for USF’s “principles of communities.” Through this, he hopes to establish a mechanism to reinforce campus climate among faculty, staff and students. The members of the task force will be announced Sept. 15.
Although he doesn’t teach anymore, Currall said he loves hearing from student’s about their ambitions and career choices.
“I dedicated my life to investing in the lives of young people so I am enthusiastic about what I do,” Currall said. “That is one of the reasons why I love this career.”
“It keeps me young too,” Currall joked.