The University of South Florida has earned statewide recognition for its supplier diversity and community engagement efforts.
The Miami-based Florida State Minority Supplier Development Council honored USF with its “Doing Well While Doing Good Humanitarian Award” in the corporation category during its 45th annual Business Impact Awards event. “A Celebration of Excellence in Supplier Diversity” was the theme of the virtual event, which recognized the achievements of Florida’s top minority businesses, major corporations and individuals committed to supplier diversity in 14 categories.
The Florida council, founded in 1975, is one of 23 regional councils affiliated with the National Minority Supplier Development Council.
The “Doing Well While Doing Good Humanitarian Award,” given to a minority-owned business and a large corporation or institution, recognizes civic, philanthropic and volunteer initiatives.
“This recognition and the impact and success that USF is experiencing are due to the efforts of a lot of very hard-working people who are committed to this initiative and we are excited that this hard work is being recognized,” said Terrie Daniel, assistant vice president for supplier diversity at USF.
“I have an excellent team that is very committed to the University of South Florida and to making our supplier diversity program the best in the state and across the country,” she added. “They work extremely hard and this recognition positively shines a light on the efforts they are making every day.”
In materials provided to the Florida State Minority Supplier Development Council, Daniel highlighted several community engagement efforts, including:
- Free consulting services are provided by the Office of Supplier Diversity and the USF Small Business Development Center. In addition, Daniel’s office sponsors a variety of events to promote diverse supplier utilization to the USF buying community.
- USF Health programs, including Tampa Bay Street Medicine, the BRIDGE Clinic, Ybor Youth Clinic and pediatric outreach serve homeless, uninsured and underinsured populations.
- The College of Education offers the Gus A. Stavros Center for Free Enterprise and Economics Education, Tutor-A-Bull and the Mort Teacher Leader Academy, providing resources and training to pre-service and in-service teachers.
- STEM for Scholars and the Oceanography Camp for Girls are annual summer enrichment programs that prepare local youth for academic life and careers in STEM fields.
- The Office of Veteran Success helps student veterans transition to civilian life through mentorship, academic support and employment readiness.
“These programs have been put in place because we want to make a significant impact,” Daniel said. “We are not just an organization that sits in the community. We are an organization that impacts the community in which we sit.”
USF’s Office of Supplier Diversity works with all USF purchasing agents, departmental buyers and facilities to monitor, implement, track progress and make adjustments to the university’s diverse business utilization strategic plan.
"We pull together listings of capable suppliers we can use across the university, such as for janitorial supplies, landscaping, construction, USF Health initiatives and research initiatives,” Daniel says. “There are suppliers in a wide variety of areas that can support the business functions of the university.”
A primary emphasis of Daniel’s office is helping suppliers understand the way USF does business.
As one example, she cited a “Business Empowerment Series” her office launched last year that helps diverse suppliers learn about bidding, bonding and insurance, marketing strategies, health and wellness, finances and taxes, and human resources.
“It’s really important that we educate our suppliers so they have success bidding our jobs,” Daniel said. “We are trying to identify barriers that we can break down as an organization to help businesses have a lot more access to what we are doing from a contractual perspective.”
She noted that in the past two years, USF has awarded more than $115 million in contracts to businesses that are partnered with Black-owned firms. Those contracts include the new residence hall that opened recently on the St. Petersburg campus, Osprey Suites, and the Judy Genshaft Honors College building planned for the Tampa campus.
Another challenge is helping diverse suppliers learn of business opportunities not only at USF, but throughout the region.
“We send weekly e-blasts to our vendor database because we want them to know what the current opportunities are,” Daniel says. “We also partner with a lot of other organizations across Tampa Bay so they know about other opportunities as well.”
USF President Steven Currall has established a series of near-, medium- and longer-term policy changes and initiatives designed to enhance supplier diversity. They include a code of conduct for all employees with purchasing authority that will establish “vision and a clear understanding of expectations for faculty, staff and administration surrounding supplier diversity.”
Also, project contractors will have to submit a “Diverse Business Utilization Plan” outlining their commitment to utilizing diverse suppliers on major construction projects (those in excess of $4 million).
Currall also has indicated that USF vice presidents and college deans will be held accountable for additional progress on supplier diversity.