Dear faculty, staff and students,
First, I want to thank you for your trust as we navigate our university leadership transition together. You play an important role in helping USF maintain its momentum in service to our community. I’d like to share with you more information about the interim president.
Over the past week, I have been gathering perspectives from stakeholders both within the university and across our community. To a person, everyone I have spoken to has great enthusiasm for the opportunity ahead of USF and expressed their commitment and support.
USF is always moving forward. That is why I am recommending an interim president who can inspire confidence while listening to and advocating for our students, faculty, staff and community; who has the leadership skills to help us pragmatically move forward on key issues; who respects the critical role of our faculty; who understands and can help advance our strong research enterprise and clinical expertise, and who has the relationships across our region and our state to garner even more support for USF as we enter our next chapter.
After careful consideration, I have decided to recommend Rhea Law, a devoted USF supporter, alumna, former Board of Trustees chair and highly respected community leader as interim president. Rhea’s deep ties within our community and her stellar leadership abilities will help us continue our momentum while we find the next great leader for our university. This recommendation will come to the USF Board of Trustees for approval at a special meeting on Aug. 2, and will be pending confirmation by the Board of Governors at its next meeting on Aug. 31.
Rhea earned an undergraduate degree in management from USF, putting herself through school while working as the university research project administrator for USF’s Office of Sponsored Research. She then earned her terminal degree in law at Stetson University College of Law, where she later served as chair of their Board of Overseers, helping to select both a dean of the College of Law and president of the university. She is one of the founding members of the USF Board of Trustees, where she spent five years as vice chair and four years as the first (and only) female chair, contributing significantly to USF’s growth and evolution as a Research 1 public university. She served on the Presidential Search Advisory Committee for the last two presidential searches. She has also served as a guest lecturer at the Judy Genshaft Honors College and Muma College of Business.
Rhea is the former chief executive officer and chair of the board of Fowler White Boggs, a Florida law firm. She led the merger of Fowler with a national firm, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, in 2014. Rhea was also a founding member of the Board of Directors of the USF Law Alumni Society, served as a member of the USF Research Foundation Board and was named a 2018 Distinguished Alumna by the USF Alumni Association. She chaired the Board of Directors for the Health Professions Conferencing Corporation with the USF Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation (CAMLS). In 2018 she was inducted as an honorary member of the USF Chapter of the National Academy of Inventors in recognition of her support of research and innovation at USF. In 2013, she was granted an Honorary Doctor of Medicine Degree from the USF Morsani College of Medicine. She formerly served on the Board of Directors for the Tampa Bay Technology Forum and the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute Board of Directors and currently serves on Moffitt’s National Advisory Board.
She has extensive connections across our community and our region. She was the first honorary commander of the 6th Air Mobility Wing at MacDill Air Force Base and thereafter served as the chair of the inaugural MacDill Support Council, where she continues to serve as a member. She is a member and a past chair of the Florida Council of 100, where she currently serves on the Executive Committee and chairs the Economic Competitiveness Committee. She has also chaired the Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce and Tampa Bay Economic Development Council, and she twice chaired the Tampa Bay Partnership, which during her tenure represented an eight-county span across Tampa Bay. She has also served as a member of the Hillsborough County Business Advisory Group and the Pasco County Business Advisory Group - among many other leadership positions within our community.
While Rhea will not apply for the permanent job, she will work closely with the Board to support a productive search process and ensure a smooth transition. We will soon provide additional details on the next steps in the search process.
Following her confirmation, Rhea will begin a series of listening sessions with faculty, staff and students across our three campuses. Your voice is critically important, and I encourage you to actively participate.
Again, thank you for your dedication to USF and for your patience during this transition. Our best days are ahead of us.
Chair, USF Board of Trustees