University of South Florida


An important update to the President’s leadership team

Dear USF Community,

I would like to share some important updates with you about my leadership team and our search for a new Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

Dr. Elizabeth Hordge-Freeman, Senior Advisor to the President and Provost for Diversity and Inclusion and Interim Vice President for Institutional Equity, has assumed a new role as Interim Associate Vice Provost for Faculty Recruitment, Retention, and Engagement in the Provost’s Office effective August 7, 2022.

My sincere thanks to Dr. Hordge-Freeman for her contributions and her continued leadership in creating a more unified and equitable university. As senior advisor, she provided leadership to the university community during a period of national conversations about systemic racism and social justice. As interim vice president, Dr. Hordge-Freeman’s collaborative leadership engaged external and internal stakeholders to envision the re-branded Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and clarify a strategic direction for inclusive excellence. She partnered to develop new recruitment initiatives for students and faculty, launch new councils and workshops, create the innovative Diversity, Anti-Racism and Equity dashboards, and strengthen vital community relationships. In her new role as Interim Associate Vice Provost, Dr. Hordge-Freeman will collaborate with the Provost’s leadership team to develop programs and initiatives that support and strengthen faculty excellence in alignment with USF’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

With Dr. Hordge-Freeman moving into this new opportunity, I am pleased to announce that Dr. Tricia Penniecook, associate professor of public health practice and vice dean for education and faculty affairs in the College of Public Health, has agreed to join the President’s Cabinet as Interim Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Dr. Hordge-Freeman will retain her appointment as senior advisor for a temporary period to assist with Dr. Penniecook’s transition.

Dr. Penniecook has more than 24 years of experience as a physician, educator and public health administrator. As vice dean, she has led the College of Public Health through an academic master planning process, integrating a comprehensive strategy to address diversity, equity, inclusion and systemic racism in all policies and procedures of the college. Before joining USF in 2017, Dr. Penniecook served as the first Afro-Latina Dean of the School of Public Health at Loma Linda University and as Vice President of Academic Administration at Oakwood University, an HBCU (historically Black college or university) in Alabama.

We expect to have a permanent Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion identified later this year. I am pleased to report that the search advisory committee that we announced last month has hosted its initial kick-off meeting and will soon begin listening sessions to engage members of the USF community in the search process. We’ll keep you updated as soon as more information is available.

At USF, we have refocused our steadfast support of all members of the university’s community by reorganizing the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and by establishing an institutional strategic plan that identifies diversity, equity and inclusion as an institutional commitment. I look forward to welcoming a talented and driven leader into the vice president role to continue advancing USF’s core values and building on our commitment to providing an inclusive, vibrant community that strives to remove barriers and support the success of our diverse community members.

Please join me in congratulating Dr. Penniecook on her new appointment and in thanking Dr. Hordge-Freeman for her ongoing service to USF.


Rhea F. Law 

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