Martin Tadlock, regional chancellor of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus, has capped several years of leadership on campus with national recognition.
NASPA, a Washington, D.C.-based organization focused on student affairs in higher education, awarded Tadlock its 2021 Presidents Award during a ceremony streamed live on Facebook.
The award recognizes a college or university president or chancellor who has, over a sustained period, advanced the quality of student life on campus by supporting the institution’s student affairs staff and initiatives.
The award comes months before Tadlock steps down as regional chancellor to return to teaching at the end of this year.
He was named interim regional chancellor in 2017 and appointed to the job permanently in 2018.
During the awards ceremony, NASPA said Tadlock has elevated the USF St. Petersburg campus “to be a shining example of the institutional transformation that occurs when a campus invests in a student-centered approach, beginning with a steadfast commitment to empowering the work of student affairs.”
The organization cited several accomplishments:
• USF St. Petersburg campus saw the fall retention rate for first-year students increase from 73 percent to 2017 to 82.5 percent in 2020.
• Overall first to second year retention rates rose from 75.9 percent to 86.9 percent over the same period.
• Creation of a campus task force on diversity, inclusion and equity and actively leading a charge to create multiple partnerships with other higher education institutions and community organizations in St. Petersburg to build a Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Center on campus.
“The award means a lot to me because helping students succeed was why I chose to work in higher education,” Tadlock said in accepting the honor. “I grew up in rural North Carolina, and was the first in my family to go to college. I know firsthand the difference that a kind word and individual guidance can make in the life of a student. And while these individual gestures are vital, I’ve learned the key to improving student success on an organizational level is working together as a team dedicated to common goals. Student success isn’t the job of one person or one department. It takes leadership – faculty, staff, students, alumni, members of the community – working as a team, taking risks and thinking beyond traditional norms.”
That spirit of togetherness was essential to move the needle on student retention and completion, he said.
“We formed cross-campus partnerships, broke down silos, encouraged everyone to view every single decision through the lens of whether it would help our students be successful or not,” he said. “The results are evidence that what we’ve always said on this campus is true. When you do the right thing, the numbers will follow.”
Tadlock was nominated for the award by Jacob Diaz, dean of students; Patty Helton, regional vice chancellor; Susan Churuti, campus advisory board member; Judithanne Scourfield McLauchlan, director of the Center for Civic Engagement; and Andrea Campos, student governor.