University of South Florida


Taking steps to enhance supplier diversity at USF and in our community

Dear USF employees,

As one of the largest economic drivers in the Tampa Bay region, the University of South Florida has a responsibility to support our local business community, especially our diverse business community. 

I am writing today to reaffirm our commitment to supplier diversity, as well as to invite all faculty, staff and administrators to participate in USF’s upcoming Supplier Diversity Day on Oct. 28 at the Marshall Student Center, and encourage any diverse suppliers that you may know to attend as well. The daylong event will feature over a dozen business symposium sessions and networking opportunities. The event is free and you can register here.

According to the federal Minority Business Development Agency, over the last decade, minority business enterprises accounted for more than half of the four million new businesses started in the U.S. and have created 4.7 million jobs. There are now more than four million minority-owned companies in the U.S, with annual sales totaling close to $700 billion. Yet, despite this growth, there is still a wide disparity when it comes to access to capital, contracting opportunities and other entrepreneurial development opportunities for minority-owned firms.  

While USF has had success in this regard, we want to do more. It is essential that USF provide greater access for minority suppliers and increase our spend with them, not only because it is the right thing to do, but because it is a proactive business strategy that will help diversify the university’s operations and provide access to a wider range of resources, competitive pricing and business approaches. The improvement in community relationships, by investing in diverse suppliers, can also result in increasing student enrollment and attracting local talent for staff, faculty and administrative positions. For example, as an indication of my leadership team's strong support of supplier diversity, the university has committed to a goal of awarding 36 percent of the on-campus stadium costs to women, veteran or minority-owned businesses, which will be supported by tangible contractual provisions to document meaningful efforts to track progress against this goal.

It is imperative that all USF faculty, administration and staff help us in this effort by practicing the following: 

  • Be open to renegotiating existing contractual commitments to open opportunities to a more diverse pool of suppliers, even if it takes more effort on our part
  • Invest in relationships with business owners, in partnership with the Office of Supplier Diversity
  • Always make genuine, intentional efforts to include diverse suppliers in procurement opportunities, and support commitments to participation goals with enforceable contractual terms
  • Notify the Office of Supplier Diversity about upcoming contracting opportunities in advance
  • Look for strategic growth opportunities for smaller suppliers, now or in the future, including those who have not yet done business with USF
  • Use the available resources to learn more about USF’s Supplier Diversity program at:

Meanwhile, our Office of Business and Finance will be exploring additional initiatives to streamline the procurement process, making utilization of diverse suppliers easier, including additional training or incentive programs. 

I want to thank you for everything you do to make our university more inclusive with our local business community. 


Rhea F. Law


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