When the three campuses of the University of South Florida were consolidated under one accreditation in July 2020, the small waterfront school went from being known as University of South Florida St. Petersburg to the University of South Florida’s St. Petersburg campus.
The move wasn’t popular among many St. Pete residents and local leaders, but nevertheless, they prepared themselves to see new signs go up.
“For us personally, we’ve accepted the change in our signage and on my clothing and other things because we’ve been asked to do that as a part of the rebranding of One USF,” Tadlock said in an October 2020 interview with the Catalyst. “But it’s expensive. Every time you change a brand, it’s a costly thing to do.”
However, in a reversal of plans, it looks like changing the signs is on hold “indefinitely,” according to Carrie O’Brion, USF’s St. Petersburg campus director of marketing and communications.
“Given the changes going on on our campus, this is a back-burner issue for most folks,” O’Brion told the Catalyst Tuesday.
Last week, USF’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously to approve a realignment plan that would reduce the school’s budget by 8.5 percent – a total of $36.7 million – by July 1, 2021. As part of the plan, USF’s St. Petersburg campus will face $3.1 million in cuts.
O’Brion said roughly seven signs would have needed to replaced and eight updated to reflect the new verbiage at an estimated cost of just over $82,000. The school has already spent about $4,000 to replace pole banners.
While signage will stay the same for the time being, that doesn’t mean that the word “campus” is off the table entirely. According to the USF editorial style guide, the lowercase word “campus” should be used after referring to the geographic location, and it would apply not only to the smaller St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee campuses but the main Tampa campus as well.
The guide goes on to note that the use of the word “campus” is a necessary component of USF’s accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) and demonstrates that USF is one university geographically distributed within three campuses.
That a name change happened at all despite language in the 2019 Florida statutes noting the school should be referred to as the University of South Florida St. Petersburg has drawn the ire of local leaders, including Mayor Rick Kriseman.
“Of the utmost importance to me is the future of USF St. Petersburg, which by law, is required to be called USF St. Petersburg and not the ‘St. Petersburg Campus’ (as it currently appears on their website),” Kriseman wrote in an October letter to state Sen. Jeff Brandes, one of the key drivers behind consolidation.
Regarding Brandes and his thoughts on the name change, Tadlock, who will step down from his role as regional chancellor into a faculty position at the end of 2021, said the two have spoken at length about the topic.
“He said as long as it’s applicable to all three campuses and they’re all held to the same expectation, he’s fine with the idea,” Tadlock said. “I think a lot of people here believe it still should be the ‘University of South Florida St. Petersburg’ without campus on it, even if it is a small ‘c,’ but that goes to individual thinking preference about that.”