'Incredible:' USF achieves goal of preeminence, and millions in funding
The University of South Florida has finally reached the end of its path to preeminence, President Judy Genshaft announced in her fall address to students Wednesday. With that achievement comes millions in bonus dollars from the state.
USF leaders set their sights on the state’s “preeminent” designation from the very start, when lawmakers in 2013 decided that top-tier universities should be honored not just in name, but also in the budget.
Just the University of Florida and Florida State University met the requirements. Universities need to meet 11 out of 12 benchmarks, including graduation rates and endowments, to make the cut.
This year, USF made it happen.
“Last year we embarked on a path to preeminence, one that required us to dig deeper, work smarter and go further than ever before,” Genshaft told students. “This past year has been truly extraordinary.”
It took a serious investment from the university. USF’s 6-year graduation rate hovered just below the 70 percent requirement. Officials contracted with big data experts to analyze student performance and intervene when students veered off track.
New data shows that USF hit the 70 percent mark.
“This is incredible,” Genshaft said. “Since our first student enrolled in 1960, we have turned a well-regarded regional university into one of the top, preeminent, public research institutions in the nation.”
The exact amount USF stands to gain will be determined this winter. Last year, $16 million was on the line.
Some of the performance benchmarks may change in the coming legislative session. Right now, the only metric USF doesn't meet is its endowment, which is growing quickly, but doesn't have the benefit of longevity like those at UF and FSU.
Genshaft also announced a new school record in research grants and contracts at $475 million, and a fundraising milestone.
A year before its goal, USF has raised $1 billion through its Unstoppable campaign.
USF recently conducted a “brand study” to learn how to better market itself, starting with its logo. Right now, Genshaft said, countless different versions are scattered around campus. Instead, USF needs one voice.
“It’s about time our reputation is as strong as our objective performance,” she said.