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Law applies to stay as university president

Interim President Rhea Law submitted her application Wednesday morning for the permanent position as USF’s next president. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE/USF

Despite previously stating she didn’t want the permanent job, Interim President Rhea Law announced her interest in remaining as USF’s president Wednesday, as first reported by the Tampa Bay Times.

She has held the position since Aug. 2 and intended to stay until a permanent university president was appointed. One of her main roles as interim president was to aid in the search process for USF’s eighth president. 

“My focus is on preparing for the new president, whoever he or she might be, to create a glide path so that when they get here to the university, they can hit the ground running and be able to immediately move forward,” Law said in an August interview with The Oracle

“A lot of my thoughts now are around preparing the glide path.”

Citing the experiences she has had since taking on the interim position, Law changed her mind. In her letter of intent to Presidential Search Committee Chair Mike Griffin, Law said wants to share her vision for USF’s next chapter, focusing on “a new era of collaboration as OneUSF.”

“When I was asked to serve as interim president … I couldn’t have imagined how pivotal this next chapter would be,” she said.

“Over hundreds of hours in conversations with students, faculty, staff, researchers, alumni, athletes and fans, donors, elected officials and community members — it has become clear that USF is at a turning point, one that requires new levels of focus, creativity, collaboration and care for our people. It also requires steady leadership, vision and purpose.”

USF Board of Trustees (BOT) Chair Will Weatherford had recommended Law to fill former President Steven Currall’s place after his retirement in July. Now, he continues his support for Law and said in a statement Wednesday she should be “strongly considered” for the permanent role. 

“Rhea Law has done an outstanding job as interim president,” Weatherford said. 

“She is not only meeting all the goals we set for her, she has also brought the community together, as evidenced by how much support for her we hear on a daily basis. I believe she has earned the right to be a candidate.”

Since stepping into her new job, Law has guided the university’s strategic planning process, ended possibilities of future development on the North Fletcher Property and has shown her support to build an on-campus stadium.

USF’s five-year strategic plan was approved by the Board of Governors on Jan. 25 and is set to be implemented July 1. Methods on how the plan will move forward have yet to be determined.

In October, Law created the North Fletcher Property Advisory Committee. It decided on Feb. 8 that the majority of the land is not suitable for development. In conjunction with its decision, Law announced the university will not be moving forward with any development proposals.

Law also helped form the On-Campus Stadium Planning Committee, which is in charge of deciding specifics such as site location and design, revenue streams and how it will be financed. While the stadium is still in its pre-planning phase, a location will be decided by July, according to Vice President of Athletics Michael Kelly.

Before becoming interim president, Law held — and still holds — many leadership roles in the Tampa Bay area. 

She was one of the USF BOT’s founding members and was its vice chair for five years. This made Law the first and only female chair at the time. More recently, she played a role in choosing the last two university presidents as part of the Presidential Search Advisory Committee.

However, much of Law’s experiences come from non-university organizations. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of Tampa Electric Company, which supplies electricity in Tampa, as well as of the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute.