Overview / Our History / Influencing a Culture of Caring
Student Success at the University of South Florida is focused on supporting our students as they enter the admissions queue, take their first steps on our campuses, navigate their academic options, explore interests, receive a hard-earned diploma and, finally, launch their career.
Our laser focused mission is reflected in our name and carried out in the work of our professional staff.
We provide students with academic support.
We create engagement opportunities to help them connect with friends and explore interests.
We support them outside the classroom, help them develop marketable skills and guide their career preparation.
We deliver health services and teach them life-long wellness.
Our work not only supports students with their academics but also enhances their education so they graduate with skills, experiences, and other knowledge to help them achieve their life goals.
The University of South Florida has long been committed to student success. In November 2009, USF launched the Student Success Task Force which developed a ten-year plan to radically transform student success in our university. At that time, our six-year graduation rate was only 48% and our four-year rate was about 24%.
Driven by an intensified commitment to student success, USF formed the Student Affairs & Student Success unit on July 1, 2016 by integrating Student Affairs, Undergraduate Studies, and the Office of Student Success. The new unit was charged with a laser focus on bolstering academic success and the student experience.
In January 2019, the unit's name was simplified to focus on its purpose and now is known simply as Student Success.
On July 1, 2020, the University of South Florida (Tampa), the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, and the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee were united into a single university with a fully aligned and integrated curriculum offered from three campuses. The campuses' student success related units are aligned to offer services, programs, and events across campuses for students' ease of access, regardless of campus. Behind the scenes, we have adapted our nationally recognized student success model initiated on the Tampa campus to the additional campus environments, to drive continued improvements in student retention and persistence to graduation.
Thanks to the ambitious goals set by the task force in 2010 and the hard work of units across the university, for the 2019-2020 academic year, our:
- First-year retention rate is 92%
- Six-year graduation rate is 75%
- Four-year graduation rate is 64%
Although pleased with these gains, the university intends to keep improving. The Student Success unit is aligned and staffed to continue to move the 'needle', bringing real benefit to our students while supporting USF's preeminence among universities statewide, nationally and globally.
influencing a Culture of Caring
As USF’s core student success model incorporated the collaboration of employees from across the university, the ‘ownership’ of student success clearly shifted from being that of any one office to becoming the responsibility of all employees. The collective efforts of the university’s student success movement were making a difference, with dramatic gains in the six-year graduation rate and admirable improvements in student retention.
In 2017, then President Judy Genshaft articulated a new philosophy reflective of the evolving culture, “We believe every student will succeed if given the opportunity to do so.” These powerful words have become the university’s student success mantra.
USF no longer approaches the education of its 50,000 students assuming that a certain percentage will stop or drop out because they lack the training, support or determination to succeed. Administrators, faculty and staff presume that every student admitted to USF will succeed when given an equal opportunity to do so.
USF knows that when students are provided the appropriate guidance and support to overcome the barriers most students will face at some point in their pursuit of a degree, they will persist and graduate in a timely manner, prepared to launch their career or head to graduate school.
USF employees—from the President’s Office to the faculty, from the chief financial officer to physical plant staff—understand that student success is everyone’s responsibility, and embrace their role with passion for their work.