A conversation about how USFSP can help solve local problems drew a large crowd at the Community Input Forum.

First Vision 20/20 Input Forums prompt lively, engaged conversations

The first round of student and community Input Forums for the Vision 20/20 strategic planning process took place Monday at the University Student Center ballroom. The forums — one for students in the morning and a second for community members in the evening — featured lively discussions of important issues for the future of USFSP. Some common themes of both forums included an interest in creating more internship opportunities to benefit students and local businesses and increasing community engagement to solve pressing local problems. Environmental Science Senior Lauren Reilly wrote in a Vision 20/20 blog post that the forum was inspiring. “Many different topics were discussed, such as undergraduate research support, paid internships and the commuter-student community,’’ she wrote. “After lunch, the second round of conversations began. I joined one that was full of laughter as we brainstormed about ways to improve our outdoor culture and bring the beach vibe to campus.” Vision Team member Goliath Davis said he was pleased with the results of the Community Input Forum. “I was impressed with the level of interest and engagement by everyone,’’ he said. “I was particularly impressed that so many people took time out of their busy lives to show up on a Monday night. And I was extremely happy to see the interest and commitment from the community for USFSP.” Regional Chancellor Sophia Wisniewska welcomed participants at both forums, saying the forums are the “heart and soul’’ of the process and encouraging everyone to focus on the big picture. “This is a chance to pause, take a deep breath and think big: What are the big ideas shaping our future that we should address today?” she said. “As Carl Sandburg once said: ‘Nothing happens unless first a dream.’” The input forums continue today, with a faculty forum in the morning and the afternoon, and the second Student Input Forum at 4:30 p.m. The final input forum will be Wednesday at 9 a.m. for USFSP staff. Members of the Vision Team will participate in a series of Learning Journeys beginning next week. The next Vision Team meetings will be Feb. 28 and March 1. For updates on Twitter and Facebook, follow the hashtag #usfspvision2020. Go to the Vision 20/20 website for detailed information about the process.

Students discuss their visions for the future of USF St. Petersburg during Monday's Input Forum.

Students discuss their visions for the future of USF St. Petersburg during Monday’s Input Forum.

Despite the jet lag, the first day in Kuwait was a big success

Today We met with the Governor of their central bank ( think Alan Greenspan or Ben Bernanke).  It was interesting and informative, though the jet lag was kicking in at that time. We talked about Islamic finance that does not charge interest, and they have a hybrid system.  Half abide by the restrictions, so it makes it harder for the central Bank to regulate two types of operations. Their banks are required to maintain 20% equity capital, which is huge compared to the West, and is why they did not have to bail out their banks in this last crisis.

Our meeting with the ministry of Info was canceled, but they are having a big event tomorrow, and that will get added to our schedule.

The fascinating event was the “cultural” center that is found throughout Kuwait. Families come together to form one, and it is only for the guys. A family is like a clan and may comprise about 700 persons.  It is basically a meeting place where a lot a business gets conducted and decisions are made in this country.

They were extremely gracious, and it gave us a chance to see another slice of Kuwaiti society.  It belongs to the royal family and other high ranking families in Kuwaiti society.  The third ranking prince (and retired prime minister) was in attendance when we arrived, and he later gave us a tour of the exhibit area they have. He was very gracious with his hospitality. .

The day was a great success.


Stacy Prouty (left) and Bevan Gray-Rogel are the featured speakers at the Jan. 17 Walgreens Bayside Business Forum.

January Bayside Business Forum to Explore Trends in Senior Entrepreneurship and the Global Aging Economy

The first Walgreens Bayside Business Forum of 2014 will focus on one of the hottest topics among entrepreneurs, economists, and policy makers today: how to address the various needs of the world’s growing aging population.

“Increasingly, people over 50 are moving to Florida and starting companies instead of retiring from working life,” said Dr. Maling Ebrahimpour, dean of the College of Business at USF St. Petersburg. “In the past few years, Tampa Bay has become a major destination for senior entrepreneurs and a desirable test bed for products and services that help people age in place, successfully manage chronic diseases, and maintain optimal physical performance well into their advanced years. All of this is great news for Florida’s future economic growth, which is being fueled by entrepreneurs from multiple generations.”

Speakers Bevan Gray-Rogel, president and founder of Encore Tampa Bay, and Stacy Prouty, chief operating officer of the Institute for the Ages in Sarasota, will share some exciting trends in senior entrepreneurship and innovation in the aging market that will have a major impact on Tampa Bay’s economy in the coming decade.

The Forum will be held Friday, Jan. 17 from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. at Franklin Templeton,100 Fountain Parkway North, Building 100, St. Petersburg.

The Forum is free and open to the public. Continental breakfast and coffee will be served. Seating is limited, so reservations are requested. To RSVP, please call (727) 873-4700 or e-mail cob-events@usfsp.edu by Thursday, January 16.

The Walgreens Bayside Business Forum is presented by the Dean’s Advisory Council of the College of Business at USF St. Petersburg. The series focuses on interdisciplinary collaborations that are shaping Florida’s business future. It is sponsored by Walgreens and Franklin Templeton.

Vision 20/20 Blog: Strategic planning process is a journey of discovery

The first Listening Forum was with the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership.

The first Listening Forum was with the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership.

We have embarked on a journey of discovery at USF St. Petersburg and hope you will join us as we set a course for the future.

Vision 20/20: Engaging Students and the Community to Transform the World is a strategic planning process involving a diverse group of great minds spending the next few months in deep exploration about USF St. Petersburg – who we are and where we are going.

Developing a strategic plan for the coming years is Job No. 1 and I am delighted it is underway.

Through a series of public listening forums and “learning journeys,” we will discover what our stakeholders expect of us and examine what other organizations are doing that can provide insights into critical questions facing this institution.

The heart and soul of this entire process will be a series of Listening Forums to solicit input from faculty, staff, students and community members. The first of these forums was held Thursday at the University Student Center during the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership’s quarterly luncheon, where we heard some great ideas. We will soon announce details about the next forums, which are scheduled for Jan. 13-15. You can also check the Things to Do Calendar on our website for details. I invite you to participate in any or all of these public forums and to offer your thoughts to those of us on the Steering Committee.

The process is driven by a 70-member Vision Team comprised of students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members and overseen by an eight-member steering committee. The team already has spent two days in wide-ranging, penetrating discussions and will soon split into groups for our learning journeys. At the conclusion of the strategic planning process we will present our strategic plan to the USFSP Campus Board and the USF System Board of Trustees for adoption.

This blog is just one of the ways we will report on our progress. Think of it as the ship’s log for this exploration, a vehicle for anyone interested in the future of USF St. Petersburg to offer their thoughts and where we are headed.

We also will post regular updates on the Vision 20/20 home page and in HarborNotes Weekly: Five Things to Know about USF St. Petersburg, which is emailed each Friday during the Fall and Spring semesters.

The strategic plan will be better with your participation. Your voice truly matters.

You can leave comments on blog posts or e-mail your thoughts directly to Steering Committee members.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Sophia T. Wisniewska, Ph.D.
Regional Chancellor


Former Mayor Rick Baker to be honored for civic leadership at Fall Commencement

Former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker will receive the Chancellor’s Award for Civic Leadership during USF St. Petersburg’s Fall 2013 Commencement ceremonies Dec. 15.

More than 400 students will receive degrees, and about 250 are expected to participate in commencement ceremonies.

The Chancellor’s Award for Civic Leadership is bestowed in recognition of outstanding contributions to the community. It is the most prestigious award granted by USF St. Petersburg and recognizes the institution’s strong ties with the community.

Baker will be honored for his commitment to education, the arts, diversity and economic development. Besides serving eight years as St. Petersburg mayor, Baker served as president of the law firm of Fisher and Sauls, chairman of the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce and vice president for economic development for USF. He is now president of The Edwards Group, which includes commercial real estate, hotels and entertainment.

“The vibrant and engaging city we all know and love today is the direct result of the visionary leadership of Rick Baker,’’ said USFSP Regional Chancellor Sophia Wisniewska.

The Fall 2013 Outstanding Graduate Award will be given by the USF Alumni Association to Charles Matthew Hamm, a College of Business student who is earning a Bachelor’s Degree in the dual majors of Accounting and Finance. Hamm served as vice president of professional development for Beta Alpha Psi, the accounting honor society, helping students transition from school to work. He also worked with the Poynter Institute to develop a professional writing presentation that was recognized by the Beta Alpha Psi national chapter. He plans to pursue a career in accounting.

The ceremonies begin at 6 p.m. at The Mahaffey Theater, 400 First Street S in downtown St. Petersburg.

 Here is a look at Fall 2013 Commencement by the numbers:

 406 Total number of graduates

327 Number of students awarded bachelor’s degrees.

79 Number of students awarded Master’s degrees.

250 Number of graduates participating in Sunday’s commencement.

4 Number of students graduating Summa Cum Laude

16 Number of students graduating Magna Cum Laude

18 Number of students graduating Cum Laude

2 Number of students with perfect 4.0 grade point averages.