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Rhea Law is among two finalists to become USF's next president

Rhea Law, left, and Jeffrey Talley
Mark Schreiner; U.S. Army
Interim USF president Rhea Law, left, and retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Talley are finalists to become USF's next president.

Interim president Rhea Law, who was asked to consider taking over as USF's next president, is a finalist along with retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Talley.

The University of South Florida has narrowed its list of candidates for its next president to two — including interim president Rhea Law.

In a letter Tuesday to USF staff, students and faculty, USF Board of Trustees Vice Chair Mike Griffin — who also headed he search committee — said Law will be considered along with retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Talley.

The announcement comes five days after published reports said Law expressed interest in assuming the role full-time.

In the letter, Griffin confirmed the firm that consulted the Board of Trustees in the search approached Law about applying for the full-time position.

It also comes after the university sought the public's input in replacing Steven Currall, who stepped down in August, citing a need to "preserve" his health following two "challenging and intense" years.

"This decision is incredibly important to the future of our university, and we appreciate how much engagement we’ve had with our community over the last seven months, including many of you," Griffin said in the letter. "From the beginning, your input has been foundational to our search, and it’s the reason we’ve reached an important milestone in the process.

Law and Talley were chosen from at least 10 other candidates.

Law, 72, is a USF graduate and was a founding member of the USF Board of Trustees. She also served four years as its first and only female chairperson.

Law is also the former chief executive officer and chair of the board of the Florida law firm Fowler White Boggs.

She served on the boards for the Tampa Bay Technology Forum and the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute, and currently serves on Moffitt’s National Advisory Board.

Talley is a member of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition in Washington D.C., which "works to strengthen tools of national security," the letter states.

He is also president and CEO of The Public Private Partnership Initiatives (P3i) Group, "a management consulting firm for government, business, not-for-profit and academia," the letter states.

Talley served in the United States, Korea, Kuwait and Iraq. In 2012, he received the rank of lieutenant general and was appointed to a four-year term as chief of the Army Reserve and commanding general of the U.S. Army Reserve Command — which includes 215,000 soldiers, 134 general officers and executives, and has a $9 billion operating budget.

Talley has an extensive engineering background and holds several degrees, including a Ph.D. (Civil and Environmental Engineering) from Carnegie Mellon University, and an Executive M.B.A. from the University of Oxford.

The search committee will conduct interviews at the USF Tampa campus on Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30. A livestream will be available at the USF Presidential Search website.

Law and Talley will then be invited to participate in town halls at USF's Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee campuses before the Board of Trustees makes its decision — pending approval from the Florida Board of Governors.

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