USF St. Petersburg aerial

Taking a close look at our growth

Whenever I ask students why they come here I usually hear the same thing: It’s the best of both worlds. You’re part of a large, well-recognized university system but you can come here and get a quality education with all the perks of a private university.

It’s a beautiful campus, the classes are small and the professors get to know you. Our excellent professors are drawn here for the same reasons.

I don’t want that to change, which is why I recently started a discussion among students, faculty and administrators about how we’re growing. I expect this discussion to take several months and I’m looking for input from everyone.

As most of you know, state funding has decreased 58 percent in the past five years while enrollment has gone up by 36 percent. This presents some challenges and opportunities.

We need to decide how big USF St. Pete wants to be.

The number of full-time faculty has gone down and the number of adjunct faculty has gone up. Adjuncts are great. They bring expertise you wouldn’t otherwise have but they’re not here full time, so they can’t always provide the personal attention students need.

So I think it’s the time to take a systematic look at our growth. Hopefully we’ll come up with some recommendations for the next regional chancellor. In the next few months we’ll have a broad discussion – focus groups, faculty meetings, student government meetings, we’ll look at the pros and cons and begin to set some goals and develop plans to guide us.

I want to make sure we have the infrastructure to achieve our goals, and not just classrooms and parking lots but the number and quality of faculty members we need to maintain who we are.

So do let me know what you think. You can leave feedback on my page.