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Key element in USF consolidation set for town hall meetings

Margie Manning



Image: University of South Florida.

University of South Florida plans a series of town hall meetings to talk about its mission and goals under consolidation.

These meetings are envisioned to be internal gatherings among USF faculty, staff and students to further develop the university’s mission and goals, a spokeswoman for USF said. Ideas and perspectives from any interested individuals within USF’s communities are valuable and will be welcomed, the spokeswoman added.

The town hall meetings initially were scheduled for next week, including one of the five at USF St. Petersburg, but there were conflicts with scheduling. A new set of dates will be announced soon, she said.

Steve Currall addressed the USF board of trustees on Sept. 10.

USF President Steve Currall last month proposed a draft mission and set of five goals, asking for approval at the Board of Trustees Sept. 10 meeting in order to meet a Nov. 1 deadline for submitting a prospectus to the university’s accrediting body, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The mission and goals is one element of what will be considered as USF seeks approval for consolidation, a process that will bring three separately accredited campuses under a single accreditation by July 1, 2020.

But trustees pushed back on Currall’s proposed 86-word mission statement, which at 631 characters is too long to fit in a single Twitter post.

“This is one area I happen to be really good at,” said Jordan Zimmerman, board chairman. Zimmerman is founder, chairman and architect of Zimmerman Advertising, the 14th largest advertising agency in the world. “I think mission statements should be memorable and repeatable. They should be short and they should be simple.”

Trustee Nancy Watkins, a Certified Public Accountant with Robert Watkins & Co., questioned why the proposed mission and goals had not gone through a committee process. She said the mission and goals provide guidance for everything the board does, and Currall’s draft statement looked “thrown together.”

Trustees voted to approve a motion by Watkins to refer the draft mission statement and goals to the board’s strategic initiative committee.

“This is one time we can really unite our system as one university, and as it comes together it should have a very memorable mission statement,” Zimmerman said.

Here are the five goals Currall proposed:

  1. High-impact research and innovation to advance frontiers of knowledge, solve global problems and improve lives
  2. A commitment to lifelong success of well-educated, highly skilled and adaptable students who thrive in a dynamic global market
  3. A major social and economic engine creating meaningful global, national and regional partnerships to build a prosperous and sustainable future for our regional communities and the State of Florida
  4. A vibrant, inclusive and safe community for learning, discovery, creative activities and transformative experiences enabled through adaptive design of physical, social and digital environments
  5. Continuous visionary planning and sound management throughout USF to ensure a strong and sustainable financial base, and proactively adapt to emerging opportunities in a dynamic environment

Even after they are submitted to the accrediting agency, the mission and goals could be further fine-tuned. Currall is planning a 12-to-18 month strategic renewal process that will include a deeper dive into mission and goals, he said.


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