* This is part of a series authored by leaders with varying perspectives on the benefits of USF being "One University Geographically Distributed."
By Thomas Becker, Interim Dean of the College of Business, Sarasota-Manatee Campus
Moez Limayem, Dean of the Muma College of Business, Tampa Campus
Sridhar Sundaram, Dean of the Kate Tiedemann College of Business, St. Petersburg Campus
The business colleges on the three campuses of the University of South Florida, each an important resource for their respective communities, have embraced the opportunities presented by the approaching consolidation. This may be the most impactful evolution in the history of the university, and we, the deans of the three colleges of business, are approaching it with enthusiasm. This is the right thing to do for our students, faculty, and the communities we serve.
The USF business colleges in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee already are finalizing plans in terms of what courses and programs to offer on each campus the post-consolidation structure. For more than a year, we have labored to forge a plan, through feedback and input from faculty members at several town hall meetings. We developed a shared vision that has overcome potential consolidation challenges and prepared us to converge into one Muma College of Business.
The shared vision that inspired us: The success of our students inside our classrooms and in the workforce after graduation. We saw that this vision of one university on three campuses provides untold opportunities to expand, improve, and strengthen our commitment to our students, faculty, and outside stakeholders. This vision will bring us together, producing a sum that is greater than its parts.
Consolidation will provide more opportunities for our students to flourish
First and foremost, every USF student on every USF campus will graduate from a preeminent research university, adding unprecedented gravitas to their university accomplishments.
Additionally, each business major will have the same requirements, allowing students to take courses from any campus to complete their degree. More majors, including risk management and insurance, cybersecurity, hospitality management, and business analytics, will be available to more students. Currently, these majors are not available across the board on all the campuses.
Similarly, students will find consolidation offers more options to tailor their studies through a wider range of instructors and professors.
Students will see increased access to scholarships, advising, living-learning communities honors programs, study abroad opportunities, and services such as career preparation and mentoring programs. For the first time – and without limitations – students may choose to take courses from any campus.
Students enrolled in classes on different campuses also will benefit from a converged infrastructure. As an example, all business students will soon have access to a dozen Bloomberg terminals on the Sarasota-Manatee campus, a state of the art marketing research lab in Tampa, and the Women and Leadership Initiative in St. Petersburg, as well as all our centers of excellence on each campus.
Consolidation will expand the accessibility of our award-winning business faculty
Every Muma College of Business faculty member, from Tampa to St. Petersburg to Sarasota-Manatee, will now work for a top-quality, highly ranked business college in a preeminent research university. This status will mean enhanced research support for existing faculty and the ability to recruit top-tier scholars in the future.
Each faculty member will have greater access to more external business partnerships to conduct meaningful and relevant research. Consolidation opens up that valuable resource to all our professors looking for real-world partners, through whom they may study the latest trends in the business world. Educators will then use that knowledge in research and bring it back to the classroom. As a result of consolidation, research findings will be more readily shared among faculty members on the three campuses, creating an atmosphere that will lead to more research collaboration.
Consolidation will bring broader opportunities for our faculty to teach courses at any of the three campuses, courses that align with their research interests. For example, professors at the Sarasota-manatee campus often cannot teach electives due to a small number of faculty and a high demand for core courses. Converging the three campuses creates a larger set of faculty in a given discipline, thereby allowing individual members more freedom to teach electives. Faculty will also have greater access to graduate programs in which they can teach and participate in research and dissertation committees.
Consolidation will strengthen the relationships with the business communities we serve
The consolidation of USF, and particularly the colleges of business, which play such an important part in each of the three communities, goes beyond the classroom and will increase the number of partnerships with outside business leaders. It will strengthen the relationships we already have with business partners who participate in research, hire our graduates, and offer their support in so many ways.
Most importantly, our partners will have consistent access to a more talented and diverse workforce graduating from our unified business college. The outside community will find it is easier to get involved with us and have a greater say in shaping curriculum that will result in graduates who are ready to come to work in leadership roles, eager to make a difference right from the beginning.
External business leaders in the entire Tampa Bay region will forge stronger bonds with the college and have the opportunity to visit each campus more often to offer guest lectures, participate in research projects, serve on advisory boards and network with faculty and students.
These activities will raise the profile of the college and our programs, providing the university with greater national visibility and enhancing the image of the communities surrounding us.
Consolidation also provides to our potential donors a chance to invest in a business school that is rising fast and strong and to support the entire system, not just one campus.
And so …
Consolidation offers countless previously unforeseen opportunities for our students, faculty, and the business communities we serve in Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Sarasota-Manatee. It is the essence of synergy, and, as one college, we will achieve so much more than we would separately. When the three business colleges come together under the Muma College of Business banner, great things will happen. Our shared commitment to our students, faculty, and our community ensures we will have a smooth transition to reach the highest levels as an innovative, vibrant, and impactful college.