TAMPA, Fla. – The University of South Florida can officially stand side by side with the University of Florida and Florida State University as the best universities in the state. The Florida Board of Governors voted unanimously on Thursday to formally designate USF as a “Preeminent State Research University,” recognizing the institution’s high performance and strong trajectory toward national excellence.
Preeminence represents the culmination of USF’s many years of careful strategic planning, focused allocation of resources and determination of thousands of students, faculty and staff. The designation comes with millions of dollars in additional funding, carries prestige that will benefit USF in many key areas, including new student and faculty recruitment, and will enhance the economic development of the Tampa Bay region.
“This validates our efforts over more than a decade to transform USF into a premiere institution of higher education, rivaling peers twice our age,” said USF System President Judy Genshaft. “This critical designation will have an exponential impact on our continued efforts to grow our research enterprise, provide the highest-quality education to our students, strengthen our partnerships and help us make an even bigger difference in our community.”
The Florida Preeminence program, written into state law in 2013, rewards high-achieving universities based on 12 metrics, including graduation rates, student retention rates, research expenditures and the number of patents awarded. In order to earn Preeminence, a university must meet or exceed at least 11 of the 12 benchmarks.
In 2016, USF was designated as the state’s first “Emerging Preeminent State Research University” for meeting nine of the 12 requirements. Since that time, USF’s six-year graduation rate and student retention rates have improved to qualify for full Preeminence.
"Achieving Preeminence is a testament to USF's longstanding commitment to student success, world-class research and faculty excellence," said USF Board of Trustees Chair Brian Lamb. "We want to thank the Board of Governors, our Governor and our state Legislature for their continued support of higher education. Preeminence positions the university to compete for the very best talent nationally and globally, which accelerates the growing reputation of the university and the Tampa Bay community."
This year, USF and the other Preeminent universities will each receive an increase of approximately $6.15 million in new, recurring funds through the program. The amount of additional dollars awarded for Preeminence each year is determined by the Legislature and Governor through the annual state budget.
USF will use the new funding to invest in student success initiatives, attract nationally prominent faculty members and enhance research activities in strategic areas, such as heart health and medical engineering. Those two fields are important as USF moves forward with plans to open the new Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute facility in late 2019 as part of Water Street Tampa.
“USF is relentless in its focus on student success, increasing its graduation rates, boosting its national rankings, and working to enhance performance in a number of areas that are important to students, families and taxpayers. I congratulate them on becoming the state’s third Preeminent university – this is a very important milestone,” said Marshall Criser III, chancellor of the State University System.
A new website launched today by USF, is designed to explain the benefits of Preeminence, detail the historic journey to earn the designation and update supporters on the university’s progress.
Inspired by the Preeminence designation, the USF Foundation has also established the USF New Era Fund. Gifts will supportfaculty recruitment, student success, scholarships and other critical efforts that impact students.