Students Find More Choices in the Wake of Consolidation
By Keith Morelli
TAMPA (December 14, 2020) -- Before July 1, business students on USF’s Sarasota-Manatee campus had to make the long trek to Tampa to take a course in entrepreneurship. Likewise, students at the Muma College of Business’ Tampa campus had to take the ride to Sarasota Manatee to find out about risk management and insurance. And business students in St. Petersburg interested in accounting or hospitality management, had to traverse two long bridges across Tampa Bay to get to their classrooms.
All that has changed. USF consolidated its three campuses on July 1, and now all courses are available to all students, regardless of location. Graduates from every campus can now point to a degree from a preeminent university. One problem: Students don’t seem to realize it just yet.
“Prior to July 1, students on USF’s three campuses may just as well have been attending three different universities,” said Muma College of Business Dean Moez Limayem. “Each was accredited separately and each offered its own programs. Business students on the St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee campuses found that certain courses in their chosen field were unavailable on their respective campuses.
“The students are the biggest winners from consolidation,” he said. “They can now take any courses from any campuses with no questions asked or justification needed. Consequently, they now have access to more electives and new majors from which to choose.
“St. Petersburg campus students now can take entrepreneurship classes, previously available only on the Tampa campus,” Limayem said. “Students in St. Petersburg and Tampa now can learn about hospitality and tourism management or risk management and insurance, previously offered only on the Sarasota-Manatee campus.
“The strategy is simple and clear cut. USF is one university offering courses at three geographical locations,” he said. “The Muma College of Business’s mission is, first-and-foremost, student success and consolidation makes that path much easier for our dedicated and hard-working charges. They deserve to get a no-hassle education in whatever field they choose.”
Among the fields of study now open to all business students across the three campuses is the School of Risk Management and Insurance, previously offered only on the Sarasota-Manatee campus.
“Consolidation means that USF students on all three campuses may now obtain a bachelor’s degree in risk management and insurance,” said Steve Miller, director of the school. “This program offers excellent career opportunities that positively impact our community and helps families and businesses prepare for – and recover from – disruptions such as financial crises, pandemics and natural disasters.
“Demand for risk management and insurance talent is high, presenting our graduates with a wide variety of career paths that offer flexibility, fulfillment and stability,” he said. “All our courses are delivered either online or via a flex-hybrid mode. Thus, students have the option to come to campus or engage in class discussion live, online from the convenience of their homes.
“Even though it has only been a few months since consolidation, the risk management and insurance program is engaged with the industry throughout the region,” he said. “We are partnering with industry leaders to bring experts into the classroom, pair our students with mentors and prepare our future graduates for success.”
Sridar Sundaram, dean of the Kate Tiedemann School of Business and Finance on the USF St. Petersburg campus, was a big part of working out a seamless transition into consolidation. Mostly it has worked out well, he said, but getting the word out to students about the widening opportunities has been a challenge.
“Informing the students of the changes, so it is clear that under ‘ONE USF’ they can take advantage of the opportunities from other campuses without any restrictions, is a work in progress,” he said. “The systems across the campuses are aligned so that data is easily available for students across the campuses.”
He said ensuring that the same student support has been a challenge, “especially, during these difficult times of COVID. We must make sure we are able to inform the students that the resources from any of the three campuses are at their disposal.”
Students also benefit by being able to work with a wide range of faculty with expertise in a variety of areas, Sundaram said. Additionally programs such as the Bulls Business Community and Bulls Honors Program, previously available only at the Tampa campus, soon will be open to students on all campuses.
Courses of study previously offered on one campus is now open to all, he said.
“Participation in programs such as the Student Managed Investment Fund through the Merrill Lynch Management Center is now available to students from Tampa and Sarasota-Manatee,” Sundaram said. “The Consumer Insight Lab and Sales Lab are now open to students from other campuses. And internship opportunities that were presented to students only on the St. Petersburg campus are now offered to all students.”