The Board of Governors (BOG) confirmed Rhea Law as the university’s eighth president Wednesday morning, a little over a week after being appointed by the Board of Trustees (BOT).
Law held the interim position while USF was in the search for its permanent president. The eight-month process ended March 22 when the BOT voted her over retired U.S. Army Lt. General Jeffery Talley. She had no intentions of applying to be president until Feb. 23.
BOT Chair Will Weatherford spoke highly of Law when introducing her to the BOG, and elaborated on his confidence in her ability to lead.
“We interact with dozens of leaders all the time, and sometimes you can just tell they’ve got that special something that’s hard to quantify,” he said.
“She’s got the resume, no question about it. But she’s also got the intangible aspects that you can’t define. I’m just excited to see what the next several years have in store for the University of South Florida and I’m excited to have her. I could not recommend anybody more highly.”
Preceding the motion to confirm her as the next university president, Law said her drive for leading the university was rooted in recognizing the potential USF has to grow for students and the community.
“Some people have asked me why I changed my mind and took up our chair’s suggestion to walk back the agreement that we originally had,” she said. “The reason is that there’s so much promise and there’s so much opportunity right here for the University of South Florida.
“When I look at what we can do in linking up with our community leaders, with our businesses, with our industries, it is beyond anything that I even imagined before I came into this position.”
In a universitywide email sent Wednesday following the confirmation, Law outlined her goals and visions she plans to accomplish during her tenure as president. Strengthening leadership opportunities, such as progressing the nationwide search for a new provost, was one of her top priorities.
Other initiatives Law mentioned in the email was improving diversity efforts by hiring a vice president for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, as well as moving forward with on-campus stadium developments.
Law said these goals are a personal motive for her, as her deep connection with the university has been a key drive in her motivation to give back to the community.
“USF has been a part of my entire educational and professional life since the beginning — when I began work as a research project administrator in the USF Office of Sponsored Research,” she said. “To be able to give back to this university and to this community is truly the privilege of my life.”