Dr. Steve Currall beat out three other distinguished academic professionals to be named the University of South Florida’s seventh president.
Currall is set to take over for current president Judy Genshaft, who, after nearly two decades of leading the university, is retiring on July 1, 2019.
“I am thrilled to be selected to lead the University of South Florida at such a pivotal time in its history,” Currall said. “USF’s trajectory is unlike any other public university in the country, and there is so much promise. I’m deeply grateful to the Board of Trustees and the USF community for the opportunity to build on the momentum created during President Genshaft’s transformational tenure.”
Currall will be coming over from Southern Methodist University where he is the provost and vice president for academic affairs.
The school’s board of trustees took several factors into consideration when selecting Currall, a psychological scientist whose lengthy resume includes earning more than $21 million in research grants and teaching for nearly three decades.
One of the chief concerns is the ongoing consolidation and re-accreditation of the three USF campuses – USF Tampa, USF St. Petersburg and USF Sarasota-Manatee.
“(Currall) has an amazing record and I think many of us were certainly hopeful that the board would select a true academic, somebody with real academic distinction,” said history professor Ray Arsenault, the president of the USF St. Petersburg Faculty Senate. “He certainly seems to meet that criteria…I’m very pleased at this point.”
Another major concern is USF’s preeminent status, which the university earned just a year ago under Genshaft.
Genshaft’s endorsement may have helped tip the balance in Currall’s favor.
“He has all of the experience both with private academic experience and public academic experience, fund-raising, research, the whole profile is great, and he’s got enthusiasm for the next era,” she said.
Currall was competing against:
Dr. Wanda Blanchett, interim provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs at Rutgers
Dr. Debasish Dutta, distinguished professor of engineering and former chancellor at Rutgers
Dr. Jeffrey Vitter, distinguished professor of computer and information science and former chancellor at the University of Mississippi
USF’s 15-member presidential search committee spent six months searching for the right candidate, which included three days of public interviews with the four finalists at each of the three campuses.
“We embarked on this search process with a clear vision of a leader who could continue USF’s success as a thriving preeminent research university, and take us to the next level,” USF Board of Trustees Chair Brian Lamb said. “Dr. Currall is that leader. He understands where we want to go as a university and as a region, and he has the experience and knowledge to get us there.”
Currall received a PhD in organizational behavior from Cornell, a master’s degree in social psychology from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Baylor University.
President-elect Currall was approved by the Florida Board of Governors, which oversees the state’s 12 public universities, on March 28, 2019.
Melissa’s career in writing started more than 20 years ago. Today, she lives in South Florida with her husband and two boys.