By Althea Johnson, University Communications and Marketing
The University of South Florida today celebrates a significant milestone in the university’s history with a special grand opening ceremony to showcase the new, state-of-the-art home of the Judy Genshaft Honors College. The five-story, 85,000-square-foot facility will serve USF’s most accomplished and talented students from every undergraduate college and strengthen the university’s position to attract the top talent within the state of Florida and beyond.
“The Judy Genshaft Honors College is the perfect place for our students to pursue their passions and create lasting memories during their studies at the University of South Florida,” USF President Rhea Law said. “A world-class honors college deserves an equally remarkable home. Our students will treasure this facility and all it has to offer as they ascend to new heights in their academic journeys.”
The new facility, located across from the Yuengling Center along USF Genshaft Drive on the Tampa campus, provides a dedicated home for the unique classes and programs for honors students. It features a variety of spaces for intellectual development and creative exchange, including open-design classrooms, 39 signature learning lofts and dedicated studio spaces for art, food and culture, along with music and technology. A total of 50 spaces in the building are named through generous gifts.
“I have no doubt this building and the opportunities it will provide, will have a tremendous impact on our USF community being able to achieve our goals and aspirations as an institution. I look forward to witnessing that impact on us, and in the lives of our students, for years to come,” USF Board of Trustees Chair Will Weatherford said.
The project is primarily funded through philanthropic support, including a historic lead gift of $20 million from USF President Emerita and Professor Judy Genshaft and her husband Steven Greenbaum. When the gift was announced in 2019, it represented one of the largest gifts of its kind ever made by a sitting university president to their institution.
“This stunning building – a beacon for bright, talented and high-achieving USF students – is the realization of a dream. It is a home of endless possibilities – both for our Honors students and the dynamic faculty members who help to shape their futures,” said President Emerita Judy Genshaft.
“It is like no other building in the nation. I can’t wait to see our Honors students here attending classes, learning in dedicated studio spaces and listening to guest speakers in the beautiful event space or on the terrace,” USF Foundation CEO Jay Stroman said. “The future is bright for the Judy Genshaft Honors College and we all are so grateful to Judy and Steve for making dreams come true.”
The Judy Genshaft Honors College consists of more than 2,500 high-achieving, cross-disciplinary scholars who are part of a close community that provides specialized experiences and advanced educational opportunities. More than one third of Honors College students at USF are the first in their families to go to college.
“This architectural masterpiece will be a place where students can be creative and think outside all the boxes and put their learning to use in addressing the challenges facing their generation,” Judy Genshaft Endowed Honors Dean Charles Adams said. “What binds these students together in my mind is that they care about making the world a better place. Here they have, at last, an academic home worthy of their dreams.”
Following the announcement of the new building in spring 2019, the profile and success of Honors College students have continued to increase. Total enrollment has grown 13 percent, the number of students with a 4.0 GPA has risen from 463 to 556 and the four-year graduation rate continues to steadily increase. Positive trends are expected to continue as the new building will offer more opportunities for student engagement, which research has shown links directly to stronger academic outcomes.
“I feel a sense of exhilaration for my peers and for future Honors students who will enjoy a new world of possibilities inside our new home,” said Naziza Bhuiyan, outgoing president of the Judy Genshaft Honors College Student Council. “I can attest that this is a major step up from our current situation. It’s almost unimaginable to me that our student leaders will have their own space now.”
The building will welcome its first class of students this summer.
More information on the new Judy Genshaft Honor College building can be found here.
Two woman in a modern classroom
Group of students in the Leona Genshaft kitchen
Two students sit in a learning loft
Artwork on display at honors college building
Students visit in a common area