About the Magazine

From the President

USF System President Steve Currall

Dear alumni, friends and supporters of USF:

Welcome to a very special issue of USF Magazine. It has been designed with two covers because we wish to share two important stories with you. One celebrates a very distinctive occasion: the 50th anniversary of the USF Alumni Association. As you read, you will enjoy recalling some of the great alumni events throughout the past half-century.

Our other main story, which begins on page 28, offers a detailed look at the mental health concerns of students and how the university is addressing their needs. With the new academic year under way, many USF students are living away from home for the first time. Like me, many of you can remember what that feels like – there’s excitement, but also understandable uncertainty, fueled by questions about academic expectations and career prospects as well as how to find one’s community, among many other complex dynamics.

In 1977, I spent my freshman year at Kansas State University, so I understand the challenges of navigating a large public institution. As I was adjusting to my new environment, I too was thinking about my academic and career paths. I was studying architecture, but also found myself drawn to psychology, which was partly from exposure to my father’s job working with patients in a community mental health center. Although I initially wanted to be a clinical psychologist, I eventually focused on organizational psychology – the psychology of the workplace.

Whether they are just starting their college careers or they are in graduate school, whether at USF or at universities across the country, more students today are grappling with anxiety, depression and substance abuse. Helping them address their mental health concerns is a key component of USF’s holistic student success initiative. Across our campuses, we are devoting an array of resources, including tele-health through the Counseling Center, health and wellness satellite centers – visited by 10,000 students last academic year – and Mental Health First Aid Training for faculty and staff. More than 500 faculty and staff have volunteered for this intensive training since it was first offered in 2018.

We know that helping students manage a wide range of issues, which also can include homesickness, time management, finances, relationships and grades, will help them persist to graduation. As Rita DeBate, one of our health and wellness experts, says, “This is a community and we take care of each other.” I share Dr. DeBate’s passion for helping students feel like they have a strong support network at USF.

Our efforts extend into middle school. As you will learn on page 15, College of Education faculty members are partnering with Pasco County Schools to train 600 teachers on how to identity the warning signs of mental health risk in their students. This is a wonderful example of the important outreach our faculty engage in with area schools and communities.

Also in this issue is a story about a valuable partnership that is helping students at USF St. Petersburg prepare for careers in finance. More than a year ago, the Bank of America Charitable Foundation awarded a $500,000 grant that established the Merrill Lynch Wealth Management Center in the Kate Tiedemann College of Business. Since then, the center and its faculty have been giving students the tools to manage stock investments while spearheading initiatives that advance financial literacy in the community.

We also value the tremendous community support for USF Sarasota-Manatee’s students, particularly during the signature fundraising event, “Brunch on the Bay.” I am looking forward to my first opportunity to attend this fun and worthwhile event on November 3, and encourage you to join us for great food, a great time, and most importantly, the chance to help our deserving students. The details are on page 19.

Philanthropic support makes a meaningful difference for our students and faculty every day. We are extremely grateful for the recent $10 million gift from the Taneja Family Foundation to name the Taneja College of Pharmacy. This is the largest philanthropic gift to a pharmacy school in the state of Florida, and it will make a significant impact on generations of students to come. You can learn about the generosity of Jugal and Manju Taneja on page 24. This was a truly transformational gift.

Cheyenne and I have now settled into the Lifsey House on the USF Tampa campus. We continue to be deeply impressed and grateful for the warmth of the university and Tampa Bay communities.

Thank you for welcoming us and for your continued support for USF.