Two new members appointed to BOT

The State University System appointed two new Board of Trustees members on Wednesday as two current trustees near the end of their terms. ORACLE PHOTO/LEDA ALVIM

Incoming changes to the USF Board of Trustees (BOT) are underway as new members were appointed to the board by the State University System on Wednesday afternoon.

Melissa Seixas, the government and community relations manager at Duke Energy, and CEO of HealthAxis Shilen Patel, are the latest addition of appointments to the board as the end of several other board members’ terms draw near. They will replace former BOT Vice Chair Stephanie Goforth and former Trustee Nancy Watkins.

The nomination for a new vice chair has not been announced yet.

The BOT has 13 members at a time, six of whom are appointed by the governor and five by the Board of Governors. The Faculty Senate president and Student Government president are also part of the board.

Seixas has an extensive history of involvement in the USF community, starting with her graduate degree in American History from the St. Pete campus all the way to her appointment to the St. Pete Campus Advisory Board in 2019. She also served on the USF Consolidation Study Planning and Implementation Task Force in 2018. 

The roots in Seixas’ career run deep throughout the community of Pinellas County. During her 35 years as government and community relations manager at Duke Energy, Seixas has also joined the board of directors at the Clearwater Aquarium, the Pinellas County Urban League and St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership, all of which she has served on for at least seven years. 

Patel is the CEO of HealthAxis, an IT solutions provider for health care payers. Founded in 1965, the company focuses on processing IT products and services “to help payers drive down costs and improve operational efficiency.”

Prior to working at HealthAxis, Patel partially owned Visionary Healthware, a provider-based health care information technology company with operations in Florida as well as California and Maryland. During his time working at Visionary Healthware, the company was recognized as one of America’s 100 largest health care IT companies by Healthcare Informatics Magazine. 

Even before being appointed to the BOT, Patel already had ties with the university as both his parents, Kiran and Pallavi Patel, have donated to USF in the past. Patel is also following his dad’s footsteps, as Kiran was a former trustee.

Patel is also a private equity investor and founder of other enterprises. He was also the co-founder and chairman of the TiE Tampa Bay Angel Fund, a fund to support startups around the state, with a focus on the Tampa Bay area.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in entrepreneurship at Babson College in 2002. He then earned his MBA from Columbia University Graduate School of Business and the London Business School.

Seixas and Patel’s nominations came one week after Will Weatherford was appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis to join the board. All three nominations must be confirmed by the Florida Senate before they’re made official.