TAMPA, Fla. — University of South Florida students, faculty, and alumni are set to hear from the two candidates hoping to become the university’s next president.
Both candidates will participate in an initial round of interviews Friday morning.
According to USF, the interview will happen between 8:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. in Traditions Hall, which is at the Gibbons Alumni Center on the Tampa campus. The interviews will be live-streamed on the USF Presidential Search website.
The two candidates, Rhea Law and Jeffrey Talley, both tout distinguished careers and backgrounds.
Law is currently serving as USF’s interim president. The USF alumna was previously an accomplished attorney. Law is a founding member of the Board of Directors of the USF Law Alumni Society. Additionally, she served as a member of the USF Research Foundation Board and was named a 2018 Distinguished Alumna by the USF Alumni Association.
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Talley is a retired Lieutenant General with the U.S. Army and served in Korea, Kuwait, and Iraq. During his Army career, he received two Army Distinguished Medals and three Bronze Star Medals. Additionally, Talley holds or has held several leadership positions. He currently serves as a member of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, an organization focused on national security in Washington D.C.
Students like Daelen Baker, a junior who transferred from Santa Fe College near Gainesville, hope the next president will continue to prioritize what she calls a student-focused approach.
“We have a lot of support structure here,” she said. “If I ever have a question, there’s a lot of people I can reach out to and get questions and answers from.”
Alex Brea, another junior, echoes that hope, especially as society emerges from a long pandemic.
“I just want someone who represents the university and really tries to help us through recovery from the pandemic,” he said.
Brea and other students also hope the next president will finally make an on-campus stadium a reality for the Bulls. A committee has been studying five possible locations to build a stadium — and the potential cost — with a goal of moving forward by the end of June.
“Honestly, I do feel that’s important because as the pandemic really went through, we don’t really have a lot of things to go to like no pep rallies, no stuff like that, you know, that we’ve kind of missed for years, so having a stadium would kind of give us unity. It would get us all back together,” Brea said.
For Jackson Pitts, a third-year student, and his friends, parking might be a bigger priority.
“I think that’s one of the examples of like a little bit of a disconnect between the administration and the actual students because we talked about the stadium,” he said. “There’s a few new buildings being built. But, at least from my circles, I hear it’s always about parking.”
Pitts and others said they also hope the next president will continue looking for ways to make this campus more diverse. Recently, a group of students protested for a student body and staff that’s more representative of the surrounding community.
Friday’s initial interviews will be just one step of the vetting process. Eventually, the Board of Trustees will interview the finalists and invite them for town hall meetings on all USF campuses before naming its selection.