USF continues to celebrate its 50th anniversary in the most fitting fashion – by continuing to grow. In quantity and quality. From less than 2,000 students to 44,000. From nothing to more than $300 million in sponsored research grants.
And don’t forget this is an institution that once suffered such unkind appellations as “Sandspur U.” and “Bottlecap U.” Even some of the serious would-be names, such as “Citrus State University” and the “University of Florida at Temple Terrace” were hardly flattering or identity enhancing.
Now USF’s image includes being the 9th largest university in the country – one with more than 200,000 alumni and more than $3 billion in annual economic impact on the Tampa Bay area. Moreover, USF rapidly has ratcheted into a prototypical urban, research university – with a charge to apply knowledge and partner with its surrounding community.
And in this, its golden anniversary year, it is still fast-forwarding in impressive fashion. Just this month:
*USF-St. Petersburg and the Silicon Valley research firm SRI International announced an eye-opening joint venture to develop and market high-tech marine science products.
*We also learned that two alums, Les and Pam Muma, had committed to a $6 million gift (to be supplemented by matching funds) to foster neonatal research at USF and construct a neonatal intensive care unit at Tampa General Hospital.
*There was the blockbuster news that USF-based Moffitt Cancer Center would collaborate with pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co. to form M2GEN, a drug-development company specializing in cancer therapies. The prospects include extended and saved lives as well as a 10-figure economic spin-off.
*Finally, there was last week’s announcement that Betty Castor would be back at USF – starting next week – as executive director of the Dr. Kiran C. Patel Center for Global Solutions.
It was political icon Castor, the former president, who made USF a player in Tallahassee and presided over across-the-board growth during her 1994-99 tenure.
Having the can-do Castor on the same campus with the regionally savvy incumbent, President Judy Genshaft, bodes well for USF’s future.
Starting with year 51.