Strategic Planning

2013-2018 Strategic Plan

USF Strategic Plan 2013-2018 (PDF)

USF Strategic Plan 2013-2018 (PDF)


The University of South Florida includes three campuses: USF, USF St. Petersburg, and USF Sarasota-Manatee, each separately accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). All institutions have distinct missions and their own detailed strategic plans. Serving more than 47,000 students, USF has an annual budget of $1.5 billion and an annual economic impact of $11.5 billion.

USF is comprised of the main campus in Tampa, its College of Marine Science in St. Petersburg, and USF Health. As a global research university dedicated to student success, USF is classified by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as a research university with very high research activity (RU/VU), and as a community engaged campus.

USF is accredited by SACSCOC to award baccalaureate, master's, doctoral, and professional degrees, including the Doctor of Medicine. The university offers more than 230 degree programs at these levels.

USF values cultural and ethnic diversity and access along with an enhanced understanding and appreciation of the global experience. From developing sources of clean energy to improving the quality of life for people with disabilities and leading the way on veterans research and reintegration, USF research and innovation is directed toward creating local, national, and global solutions to society's most difficult problems.

In addition to being an important part of the Tampa Bay economy, USF undertakes ambitious community-engaged research and participates in mutually beneficial partnerships that enhance student access to academic programs, research, and employment opportunities.

And at the heart of the university is a fundamental commitment to student success.

President's Message

The University of South Florida's 2013-2018 Strategic Plan builds on a tremendous era of achievement for our young institution, during which USF greatly expanded its national and international reputation as a creative, innovative, and successful center of higher learning and research. While the previous strategic plan guided the university through unprecedented financial challenges, this plan is designed to build on our defining strengths and core mission: providing a globally-competitive education to our students; creating partnerships that leverage our assets with other public institutions and the private sector; and advancing research, innovation, and sustainability.

This plan comes at a time when our nation and our world have come to accept a "new normal" for higher education, even as colleges and universities play an ever-increasing role in the world's economic future. More people will need advanced education to be successful, but America's higher education sector holds no illusion that the public resources lost during the Great Recession will recover to previous levels. The onus is now on institutions – especially those such as the University of South Florida, a public research university which serves a diverse population – to create new opportunities wherever the potential exists. The nation looks to its public research universities to reignite the economy and provide a workforce that is adaptable, entrepreneurial, and resilient.

In this document, you will see clearly that the University of South Florida envisions itself as a premier public research university with state, national, and global impact. We continue to measure our progress against the best institutions and position the university for membership in the Association of American Universities. We will distinguish USF as an inclusive environment that expands access for students from all walks of life, creating a learner-centered environment where every aspect of the university is committed to student success. Our dedicated faculty and staff have put USF on the leading edge of research in many disciplines that are critical to the future prosperity of our region, state, and nation, including health care, marine science, water resource management, veterans reintegration, and urban sustainability.

USF stands shoulder to shoulder with the best public and private institutions as a Top 50 research university, as a global leader in new U.S. patents, and as a leading producer of Fulbright Scholars.

As you review this document, bear in mind this is not a plan that exists on paper only. It is infused into our university's budgeting, hiring, and work production processes. As a university, we have come to respect the value of careful and deliberate planning as essential to moving forward in an era when setbacks and roadblocks are numerous and unpredictable. With a clear sense of our priorities, we look forward to meeting the challenges ahead and continuing to build a great university of the future.

Genshaft's signature

Judy Genshaft

Executive Summary

The 2013-2018 Strategic Plan builds on the success of previous plans and advances the institution as a global research university. The vision is to extend USF's reach in the U.S. and around the world, provide further educational opportunities for students and improve their employability, increase faculty and staff prospects, and foster richer local, national, and international relationships. By these steps, we also look to advance the university's case for membership within the Association of American Universities (AAU).

The new plan adopts a laser-like focus on USF's academic investment and performance, refining institutional priorities and measuring outcomes as depicted in the updated planning and performance matrix and online dashboard. The plan underscores the pressing need to provide broad access to higher education while maintaining affordability and high quality within a changing economic reality brought on by significantly reduced state support.

While honoring the accomplishments produced from previous plans and recommitting the institution to the hallmarks of student success and top-tier research and innovation, the new plan also differs from its predecessors by way of its fresh emphasis on developing active public-private partnerships designed to increase economic and employment opportunities within a global context that recognizes the significance of international relations in an interconnected world.

USF's priorities have been set:

  • USF will, through a continued commitment to student success, produce well educated global citizens
  • USF will, through its high-impact research and innovation, change lives for the better, improve health, and foster sustainable development and positive societal change
  • USF will, as a highly effective major economic engine, create new partnerships to build a strong and sustainable future for Florida in the global economy
  • USF will pursue a more secure economic base, greater operational and resource efficiencies, and increased transparency in its business practices

Strategic Planning Challenges

Preparation of the 2013-2018 Strategic Plan began in spring 2011 and continued into fall 2012. Directed by Vice Provost Graham A. Tobin, the 39-member Strategic Planning Committee included representatives from major constituent groups: students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Stakeholders from the broader campus and Tampa Bay communities also contributed to the process.

USF's plan aligns with the State University System of Florida Strategic Plan for 2012-2025, the Florida Board of Governors' annual work plan, and legislative/gubernatorial priorities. Careful attention was paid to (i) maintaining USF's position as a top-tier (RU/VH) research university and a community engaged university as designated by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching; (ii) improving performance relative to the Association of American Universities' indices; (iii) increasing USF's national ranking based upon the National Science Foundation's assessment of total and federal research expenditures; (iv) improving the number and quality of graduate programs ranked by the National Research Council; and (v) enhancing USF's position in the Top American Research Universities annual report.

USF's bold vision requires strategic investment and predictable funding. However, the dramatic shift in public higher education funding in Florida makes specific budget projections difficult. Consequently, the planning process assumed that: (i) state appropriations would either decline or remain stable; (ii) USF would have authority to increase tuition rates to meet requirements; (iii) state legislation would allow pledging of tuition to support capital needs; (iv) the USF Foundation would meet its goals for increased giving; (v) USF's Direct Service Organizations and auxiliary operations would generate incremental margins for reinvestment; and (vi) USF would achieve savings through budget re-engineering.

In addition, the landscape of higher education in Florida is changing as state colleges and private institutions now compete with for-profit providers for students. Thus, risks remain high. There persists considerable economic uncertainty regarding support for higher education at both federal and statewide levels. This plan helps position the university to manage effectively these challenges.

Mission and Vision


The University of South Florida's mission is to deliver competitive undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs, to generate knowledge, foster intellectual development, and ensure student success in a global environment.


The University of South Florida is a global research university dedicated to student success and positioned for membership in the Association of American Universities (AAU).

As Florida's leading metropolitan research university, USF is dedicated to:

  • Student access, learning, and success through a vibrant, interdisciplinary, and learner-centered research environment incorporating a global curriculum
  • Research and scientific discovery to strengthen the economy, promote civic culture and the arts, and design and build sustainable communities through the generation, dissemination, and translation of new knowledge across all academic and health-related disciplines
  • Partnerships to build significant locally- and globally-integrated university-community collaborations through sound scholarly and artistic activities and technological innovation
  • A sustainable economic base to support USF's continued academic advancement


The University of South Florida values:

  • High-quality education and excellence in teaching and learning
  • High-impact scholarship, research, and creative activities
  • Diversity of students, faculty, and staff
  • Affordable and accessible education
  • Global research, community engagement, and public service
  • Social, economic, and environmental sustainability
  • Focus and discipline in aligning the budget with institutional priorities
  • A campus life with broad academic, cultural, and athletic opportunities
  • Success and achievement of its students, faculty, staff, and alumni
  • Shared governance within all components of the institution
  • Collegiality, academic freedom, and professional responsibility
  • Entrepreneurial spirit, partnerships, and innovation
  • Efficiency and transparent accountability
  • First-class physical infrastructure and a safe campus environment

Strategic Plan Documents