By unanimous decision, The University of South Florida’s Board of Trustees voted to recommend Steven Currall, Ph.D. to become the seventh president of the university. Currall will succeed Judy Genshaft, who will step down July 1 after a 19-year tenure at USF.
The decision comes after a months-long process that culminated in a whirlwind week of in-person interviews and fireside chats on the Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee campuses. Friday afternoon, the Board of Trustees met to discuss the results and vote on a final decision to bring to the Board of Governors for approval.
Currall currently serves as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. His presidency will take effect (granting approval from the Board of Governors) July 1.
“I’m humbled and excited to help lead the University of South Florida into its next era and to build on the strong momentum that we have here thanks to President Genshaft and her leadership team, the faculty, staff, students and alumni, and all the stakeholders over the last 19 years,” Currall said. “USF’s trajectory is truly unlike that of any other public university in the country and there’s so much potential for future growth … Even given all that USF has accomplished, there’s still a sense we’re only just getting started.”
Jan Greenwood, president of Greenwood/Asher & Associates, who led the search for the University’s next president, described the candidate pool as very deep, especially for a “Sunshine search,” she said. Greenwood was referring to Florida’s Sunshine Law, which requires a transparent hiring process, as opposed to the closed hiring process of universities in states without such laws.
“You should be quite proud of that, because it’s the reputation of your university and the fine work of your faculty, staff, board and community members that led to that reputation,” said Greenwood. However, she also stated that the reason many applicants declined to apply for the position was because of the Sunshine Law. USF did not receive applications from current presidents or chancellors of successful universities for that reason, as vying for such a position publicly could cost their jobs, important funding or political influence at their current universities.
Greenwood gave a background of each of the candidates and spoke of the feedback the search agency had received from both Currall’s references and non-references. Greenwood described Currall as bringing the advantage of having been employed in private and public universities, as well as AAU and non-AAU schools. “He’s seen where you’re headed and he’s seen where you are,” she said. Currall, who holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior from Cornell University, is known for being very-goal oriented, bright, talented and collaborative with faculty. His background in organizational behavior and management was also highlighted as invaluable.
Currall also holds an M.Sc in Social Psychology from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and a B.A. in Psychology from Baylor University. His resume can be found here.
Each trustee took a turn welcoming Currall and his wife, Dr. Cheyenne Currall, including Brian Lamb, board chairman.
“I can’t tell you how important today is, how much it means to me personally as chair of this board, as an individual who’s been part of this institution for over 25 years in a number of ways, someone who has a unique appreciation for many of the things you talked about as we’ve been together. For you and Cheyenne to trust this institution with the future of your careers and the strategies and the dreams that you have, for us to share those together, it means a lot,” Lamb said.
Genshaft presented Currall with a tie in green and gold — USF’s colors— and gave a green and gold scarf to his wife.