Regional Chancellor Sophia Wisniewska, Ph.D.,thanks community members for their warm welcome.

A warm welcome for Regional Chancellor Sophia Wisniewska

More than 200 community members filled the University Student Center Ballroom Thursday night to welcome USF St. Petersburg Regional Chancellor Sophia Wisniewska, Ph.D.


The event was sponsored by the USFSP Campus Board, Duke Energy, the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership, St. Petersburg College and Bank of Tampa. Additional support was provided by All Children’s Hospital Johns Hopkins Medicine, the USF Federal Credit Union and Bill and Ann Edwards.

“While this event marks my formal welcome as Regional Chancellor, more importantly it provides an opportunity to celebrate USF St. Petersburg’s impressive achievements and extraordinarily promising future,” said Wisniewska, who became Regional Chancellor July 1 after many years in key leadership positions in the Penn State System.

She said her first 10 weeks reconfirmed her impression that USFSP is “ a gem that is well positioned to become one of the region’s best educational resources.”

“There are so many reasons to be proud of USF St. Petersburg,” she added.

“We have a treasure trove of talented faculty, involved in projects and cutting edge research that they bring right into the classrooms. They are award winning leaders in their fields. The most recent example is Jay Sokolovsky, who has been honored by the American Anthropological Association for nearly four decades of work, creating an entirely new area of study focused aging.”

She pointed out the work faculty and students are doing to improving the community. Forty percent of students are involved in community service, she said. “I was talking to a student leader on Monday, Lauren Reilly, who transferred here from the University of Colorado Boulder and she said that she didn’t realize her potential until she came to USF St. Petersburg,” Wisniewska said. “What a reaffirming statement that is, that the time spent here truly makes a difference.”

Her top priority, she said, is developing a substantive and collaborative strategic plan. “I am a big believer in strategic planning,” she said. “In previous positions where I have directed strategic plans, every major change we made grew out the plan we created. I will be calling on many of you in this room to participate in this important process. I really want to hear your ideas.”

Wisniewska said she has been struck by the deep well of affection the community has for USFSP. “It’s a love fest, it truly is,’’ she said.

She also expressed her gratitude for the warm welcome she has received. “At the beginning of the summer, I felt like a total newbie, but what a difference a few months can make,” she said. “St. Petersburg is starting to feel like my home now.”