Click to read about the best places to eat on campus, freshman packing tips, and how to keep in touch with friends.

Inside look at the Presidential Search Committee

A 15-member Presidential Search Committee, headed by Board of Trustees (BOT) Vice Chair Michael Griffin, is partnering with SP&A Executive Search to find candidates for USF’s next president.  

The committee had its first meeting Wednesday morning at the St. Pete campus and plans to meet again in early October. It will also be hosting town halls in the coming weeks, but dates have yet to be announced.

Learn more about the members of the committee leading the selection process.

Alberto Pimentel

Alberto Pimentel is the co-founder and managing partner of SP&A Executive Search, the search firm helping the committee select a new USF president. He has worked for the past 20 years to find appropriate candidates for a variety of administrative positions at universities, nonprofits and governmental agencies. 

Prior to founding his search firm, Pimentel was vice president at A.T. Kearney Executive Search. He’s also performed consulting work for Witt, Kieffer, Ford Hadelman & Lloyd, an education practice. He was a teacher and program coordinator at the Los Angeles Unified School District before becoming a consultant. 

He is located in California and received his bachelor’s degree from California State University in Los Angeles. He holds various degrees, including a master’s in education and master’s in public administration from Harvard University.

Search Committee Chair Michael Griffin 

Two-time USF Student Body President Michael Griffin was initially appointed to the BOT by the Board of Governors in 2019 and he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in marketing from USF in 2003. Griffin is also senior vice president of Savills, a commercial real estate agency in Tampa.

Griffin has held many leadership positions at USF, such as founding chairman of USF’s Financing Corporation which developed several bond financing projects for USF. He also chaired the USF Alumni Association Board of Directors and served on the USF Foundation Board of Directors. 

In 2018, Griffin was appointed to serve as chairman of the USF Consolidation Task Force, focusing on developing recommendations for the consolidation of USF’s three campuses.

Search Committee Vice Chair Melissa Seixas 

Melissa Seixas serves as a member of the USF BOT and USF St. Pete Campus Advisory Board. ​​In 2018, Seixas served as a member of the USF Consolidation Study Planning and Implementation Task Force, which provided university consolidation recommendations to the BOT. Due to her longtime service to USF, Seixas was honored with the 2019 USF St. Pete Regional Chancellor Award for Civic Leadership.

Seixas has worked 35 years at holding company Duke Energy where she is the current state president.

Before getting a master’s degree in American history from USF in 1996, Seixas got a bachelor’s degree in American history from Eckerd College. She has executive training from a Corporate Social Responsibility certification from Johns Hopkins University, and programs with the Edison Electric Institute and Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business.

Tammy Allen 

Distinguished university professor Tammy Allen has been part of the USF department of psychology for 25 years. Allen received a Ph.D. in industrial-organizational psychology from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 1996 after completing her bachelor’s degree in psychology at California State University, Fullerton in 1991.

Allen is the 2021 recipient of the Herbert Heneman Jr. Award for Career Achievement from the Human Resources Division of the Academy of Management.

She has over 180 peer-reviewed journal articles, books and book chapters, and Allen’s work has been cited over 40,000 times. She has received various awards and has been featured by multiple media outlets.


Derrick Brooks 

Derrick Brooks is a current board member of the BOT and KForce Inc., an information technology firm in Tampa. A former Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker, Brooks played for the team from 1995-2009 until he became an ESPN analyst in Connecticut. He returned to Florida in 2011 to lead the now-defunct Tampa Bay Storm, a professional football team.

After the team ceased operations, Brooks began working with sports entertainment company Vinik Sports Group. He’s run Derrick Brooks Charities for over 22 years to provide scholarships to young people from low-income households.

Originally from Pensacola, he holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees each in business and corporate communications from FSU.

Lisa Carlton

Lisa Carlton joined the USF Sarasota-Manatee Campus Advisory Board in 2020. A Sarasota native, Carlton served in the Florida House of Representatives from 1994-1998 for the 70th district before being elected to the Florida Senate, representing parts of Sarasota County, for four years.

Carlton currently serves as a guest lecturer at the Lou Frey Institute of Politics and Government at UCF. She’s a rancher and attorney, receiving her bachelor’s degree in sociology from Stetson University in 1986 and her Juris Doctorate from the Mercer University School of Law in Macon, Georgia in 1989.

Braulio Colón

Braulio Colón is the current vice president of Florida Student Success Initiatives at the Helios Education Foundation, which works to close the gap in K-12 and higher education between white students and their African American and Latino peers. Colón is also the co-founder of the Florida College Access Network and was the regional field director at the Florida Department of Education from 2003-2007. 

He received two bachelor’s degrees in Africana Studies and Mass Communication’s from USF as well as a master’s degree in public administration.

John Couris

John Couris has been the president and CEO of Tampa General Hospital since 2017. Prior to taking a lead role at the hospital, he was president and CEO of Jupiter Medical Center in Jupiter, Florida. He’s held various administrative positions in health care for the past 30 years. 

Couris received his doctorate in business administration and management from the USF Muma College of Business.



Julia Cunningham

Senior political science and psychology major Julia Cunningham is the current student body president for the second consolidated term at USF, as well as a member of the USF BOT.

Before being elected as president, Cunningham served as a senator for Student Government and vice chairperson of the Ethics Committee. She also is on the Executive Board for the student organization Minorities in Pre-Law and worked as an intern with Congresswoman Kathy Castor.

Oscar J. Horton 

Oscar Horton is a current member of the BOT and CEO of Sun State International Trucks, a full-service truck dealership. He’s also on the Board of Directors at The Bank of Tampa and was formerly a chair for the Tampa Academy Prep Center. 

Horton graduated from the University of Arkansas Little Rock in 1974 with bachelor’s degrees in sociology and psychology. His term with the BOT ends in 2023.





Patrick Hwu 

Patrick Hwu is a tumor immunologist and has been president and CEO of Moffitt Cancer Center since November 2020. He’s also the president of the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer and a scientific advisory board member at Immatics, a Germany-based cancer research center. 

Before his time at Moffitt, Hwu worked at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center leading the Division of Cancer Medicine. He held various administrative roles there for over 17 years.

Hwu also held the position of senior investigator at the National Cancer Institute from 1993-2003 in Bethesda, Maryland. He earned his doctorate in medicine at the Medical College of Pennsylvania.

Ken Jones

Ken Jones is the founder and CEO of TL Capital and Third Lake Partners, a worldwide private investment firm. Launched in 2013, the firm invests capital in real estate, private credit, direct private equity and funds. Jones is the main stakeholder and a side-by-side investor in all investments of the firm.

In the past, Jones has worked on legal, government and management positions in Washington, D.C. He served as chief legal counsel and deputy chief of staff for former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott and the Senate Rules and Administration Committee.

Jones has also served as chief counsel to George W. Bush’s Presidential Inaugural Committee and, in 2012, has served as president and CEO of the Republican National Convention.

Mark T. Mondello

Mark T. Mondello is the CEO and director at Jabil, Inc., a St. Pete-based manufacturing services company since 2013. He started at the company in 1992 as a manufacturing supervisor and climbed his way up until his appointment as CEO.

He obtained a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from USF. In 2019, he helped launch the USF Jabil Innovation Institute, a multimillion-dollar institute combining the College of Engineering and the Muma College of Business.

Before joining Jabil, Mondello worked at Moog, Inc., an aerospace and defense company, as a commercial and defense-related aerospace project manager.

Sylvia Wilson Thomas

Sylvia Wilson Thomas is an associate professor in electrical engineering and former assistant dean in the USF College of Engineering. Thomas is also a senior member of the National Academy of Inventors and a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering. 

She earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in electrical engineering from Vanderbilt University. She then pursued a Ph.D. in electrical engineering at Howard University.

Thomas’ constant dedication to diversity and professional development within the STEM field led her to win the 2020 U.S. Black Engineer BEYA Educational Leadership Award, the 2018 USF Undergraduate Teaching Award and the 2018 Women in Leadership and Philanthropy Award.

Debbie Nye Sembler

A former member of the BOT, Debbie Nye Sembler is currently a part of the USF St. Pete Campus Advisory Board. She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism and marketing from UF.

She previously served as a senior account executive on the Hong Kong and Mexico account for Hill and Knowlton, an American global public relations consulting company headquartered in New York City. She also worked as the director for public relations for the Wyndham Hotel SeaWorld in Orlando.

Jose E. Valiente

Jose E. Valiente is a certified public accountant in Florida and a retired Clifton, Larson, Allen, LLP partner. He served on the USF Foundation Board of Directors for nine years before being elected chair of the board in August. 

He graduated from USF in 1973 with a degree in accounting. He has been living in the Tampa area for 45 years and has worked as chairman of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce.