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University System Board Backs USF Changes

University of South Florida
University of South Florida

The Florida Board of Governors on Thursday unanimously endorsed a proposal to reunify the University of South Florida with two branch campuses in St. Petersburg and Sarasota.

Rep. Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, has advanced a plan in the ongoing legislative session to move the USF St. Petersburg and USF Sarasota-Manatee campuses, which now are separately accredited institutions, back under the main USF campus in Tampa.

The endorsement of the idea by the state university system’s Board of Governors came after USF President Judy Genshaft wrote a letter this week saying the unification, which would take place in 2020, could provide “significant benefits” to USF students.

“It just makes sense,” says Board of Governors member Wendy Link. “I think it’s going to help unify your entire university.”

Norman Tripp, another Board of Governors member, said there were political reasons behind the original move to separate the USF campuses, but it did not work out as planned.

“I think we now have an opportunity to bring the children back home and make them part of the family,” he says.

Board of Governors member Alan Levine, who supported the motion, says he would defer to USF trustees on the decision. But he also said the board needs “to be mindful” of the “pride” that the local communities have for their independent branch campuses.

“It may have been political,” Levine says. “But there’s a reason for the politics.”

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