University of South Florida


Announcing USF President-elect Rhea Law

Dear USF students, faculty, staff, alumni and supporters,

Thank you for your trust and engagement over the past seven months as we have searched for the next president of the University of South Florida – an individual who will lead USF into its greatest chapter yet.

I am thrilled to announce that after a thorough nationwide search, our Board of Trustees today unanimously selected that distinctive individual: our very own Rhea Law. President Law’s appointment will be subject to confirmation by the Board of Governors at its next meeting on March 30.

By every measure, President Law has been doing an exceptional job as interim president since August. Her application for the permanent presidency came in response to overwhelming support from stakeholders at all levels – from students, faculty and staff to alumni, community members and elected officials.

She is the right leader for us at the right time, for many important reasons.

President-Elect Rhea Law Video Message

Click image above to view video message.

President Law has an unrivaled, comprehensive perspective on USF’s trajectory. She has contributed to the university’s growth from nearly every vantage point. Not only is she the first USF alumna to become president, she began her career as a USF staff member in the Office of Research, putting herself through school as a university research project administrator. She was also the first and only female chair of the USF Board of Trustees. She has spent her entire career building positive relationships that have tremendous benefit to the university. She has held leadership roles on every major advocacy and civic group in Tampa Bay and Florida, giving her a unique understanding of USF’s history and our future.

It is no coincidence that under President Law’s leadership we recently experienced the most transformational Legislative session in USF’s history, with record-setting investments in USF’s operations on all three campuses, as well as investments in strategic projects such as nursing, environmental and oceanographic sciences in St. Petersburg, and cybersecurity.

President Law also led the effort to complete USF’s new Strategic Plan, which positions us well to maximize these historic investments and continue our momentum. She also created a collaborative working group to develop a predictable budget model so that these new resources will be allocated effectively and with transparency.

Meanwhile, she has fostered greater communication and collaboration across all our campuses. She has committed to creating a culture of inclusive excellence within the university and the communities we serve. She brings a sense of warmth and optimism that has sparked new levels of enthusiasm among our Bulls family. She has also led the planning effort for the new on-campus football stadium, which will energize our campus in ways never before seen at USF.

Aside from her performance over the last seven months, President Law’s unique qualifications speak for themselves. She has decades of valuable experience, including strategic instincts and decision-making, sharp political acumen and a deep understanding of higher education.

President Law 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. 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. She is 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.

President Law earned her undergraduate degree in management from USF while working as the university research project administrator for the 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.

We have the utmost confidence in President Law, and I can’t wait to see how far we can take USF under her leadership. Our best days are ahead of us.

I would like to thank our broadly representative search committee, led by Chair Mike Griffin, for its hard work over the past seven months. Each member contributed meaningful input that helped bring us to a successful outcome today. I also want to thank our executive search firm, SP&A Executive Search, for their ongoing guidance throughout this process. And thank you to our other qualified candidates for their interest in the University of South Florida and for all they are doing to make a positive national impact on higher education.

Finally, I want to thank you, the members of the USF community, for your sincere engagement throughout the search process. To our passionate students, faculty, staff and alumni, thank you for supporting the Board of Trustees as we worked to select the very best leader who can build on our success and take USF to the next level. I am confident that with the continued commitment of this community and the leadership of President Law, USF’s future is brighter than ever.


Will Weatherford
Chair, USF Board of Trustees

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