About the Magazine

From the President

President Rhea Law smiling for the camera

Dear alumni, friends and supporters of USF:

This has been an incredibly busy and rewarding fall semester across our USF campuses. We also know this has been a very painful period for many members of the USF family, friends of the university and neighbors who suffered heartbreaking losses from Hurricane Ian. Many of you have provided much-needed assistance throughout this challenging time, and I also am grateful to the many faculty, staff and students who have volunteered in the hardest-hit areas and contributed in other ways. See a story in this issue details a few of their many efforts.

The teaching and learning, service and research of our College of Nursing are in the spotlight as the cover package for this issue. As we prepare to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2023, the college is embarking on a major expansion that will significantly enhance undergraduate education to help address Florida’s nursing shortage crisis. Thanks to the Florida Legislature and Gov. Ron DeSantis, this year’s state budget includes critical funds to expand the college’s facilities on the Tampa campus to create additional classrooms and state-of-the-art simulation space. The budget also includes recurring funding to support a nearly 50 percent increase in the number of faculty. By 2028, we expect the college will produce more than 750 undergraduate nurses each year, a roughly 200 percent increase.

Under Dean Usha Menon’s leadership, the college also is expanding its efforts to address disparities in health care delivery. It has meaningful partnerships with the Salvation Army, Port Tampa Bay and the Tampa Port Ministries, and early next year, the college expects to take delivery of a mobile health unit that will increase access to health care in several medically underserved areas in our region. The efforts of the college’s faculty, staff and students reflect the priority we place on understanding and responding to the needs of our communities.

We also are excited about the expansion planned for the Sarasota-Manatee campus. As the story explains, two much-needed projects will physically transform the campus by doubling the amount of space for living, learning, research and other activities. A nursing/STEM building will double the size of the campus’s nursing program; increase new majors in the health disciplines and other programs; and fill the need on campus for large classrooms, teaching and clinical labs and research facilities. It also will add to our efforts to meet the demand for more nurses, business professionals, scientists, engineers and other professionals. The second project is a combined housing and student center complex that will allow the campus to strengthen the overall student experience. Once completed, the six-story building will accommodate up to 200 residents. We expect to break ground on this project in early 2023.

It was wonderful to see so many of you during our Homecoming celebration in October. One of the highlights was the presentation of the annual USF Alumni Awards. Congratulations to Michael Rao, Ernest Boger and Ken Eriksen, the very deserving recipients of recognition as USF Distinguished Alumni, the highest honor bestowed on alumni by the university. We also extend our congratulations to Pam Muma, who received the Donald A. Gifford Service Award, and Jerry Bell, recipient of the Class of ’56 Award. These honors recognize their transformative dedication to the university and the community and are USF’s most prestigious honors for service. A story about the honorees begins on page 44.

Another of our wonderful fall traditions is the USF Fast 56 awards. The 10th annual ceremony celebrated the 56 fastest-growing businesses owned or led by alumni, and the recipients come from all corners of the university, from engineering and education to criminology, geology and psychology. Learn more about these accomplished individuals and their businesses online here.

Thank you for your support of our students and our university. I wish all of you a wonderful holiday season and a new year filled with peace and good health.

Rhea F. Law, ’77, Life Member