September 28, 2022


On Thursday, June 28, 2018, USF was officially designated as "preeminent" by the Florida Board of Governors.

USF News Release

USF Officially Designated as 'Preeminent' by the Florida Board of Governors

Historic achievement places USF in the top category of Florida's universities and comes with millions of dollars in new funding that will benefit the Tampa Bay region's future

| 6/28/2018

TAMPA, Fla. (June 28, 2018) – The University of South Florida can officially stand side by side with the University of Florida and Florida State University as the best universities in the state. The Florida Board of Governors voted unanimously on Thursday to formally designate USF as a “Preeminent State Research University,” recognizing the institution’s high performance and strong trajectory toward national excellence.

Preeminence represents the culmination of USF’s many years of careful strategic planning, focused allocation of resources and determination of thousands of students, faculty and staff. The designation comes with millions of dollars in additional funding, carries prestige that will benefit USF in many key areas, including new student and faculty recruitment, and will enhance the economic development of the Tampa Bay region.

“This validates our efforts over more than a decade to transform USF into a premiere institution of higher education, rivaling peers twice our age,” said USF System President Judy Genshaft. “This critical designation will have an exponential impact on our continued efforts to grow our research enterprise, provide the highest-quality education to our students, strengthen our partnerships and help us make an even bigger difference in our community.”

The Florida Preeminence program, written into state law in 2013, rewards high-achieving universities based on 12 metrics, including graduation rates, student retention rates, research expenditures and the number of patents awarded. In order to earn Preeminence, a university must meet or exceed at least 11 of the 12 benchmarks.

In 2016, USF was designated as the state’s first “Emerging Preeminent State Research University” for meeting nine of the 12 requirements. Since that time, USF’s six-year graduation rate and student retention rates have improved to qualify for full Preeminence.

"Achieving Preeminence is a testament to USF's longstanding commitment to student success, world-class research and faculty excellence," said USF Board of Trustees Chair Brian Lamb. "We want to thank the Board of Governors, our Governor and our state Legislature for their continued support of higher education. Preeminence positions the university to compete for the very best talent nationally and globally, which accelerates the growing reputation of the university and the Tampa Bay community."

This year, USF and the other Preeminent universities will each receive an increase of approximately $6.15 million in new, recurring funds through the program. The amount of additional dollars awarded for Preeminence each year is determined by the Legislature and Governor through the annual state budget.

USF will use the new funding to invest in student success initiatives, attract nationally prominent faculty members and enhance research activities in strategic areas, such as heart health and medical engineering. Those two fields are important as USF moves forward with plans to open the new Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute facility in late 2019 as part of Water Street Tampa.

“USF is relentless in its focus on student success, increasing its graduation rates, boosting its national rankings, and working to enhance performance in a number of areas that are important to students, families and taxpayers. I congratulate them on becoming the state’s third Preeminent university – this is a very important milestone,” said Marshall Criser III, chancellor of the State University System.

A new website launched today by USF,, is designed to explain the benefits of Preeminence, detail the historic journey to earn the designation and update supporters on the university’s progress.

Inspired by the Preeminence designation, the USF Foundation has also established the USF New Era Fund. Gifts will supportfaculty recruitment, student success, scholarships and other critical efforts that impact students.

What others are saying about USF earning the Preeminence designation

“We are a proud city that is emerging as one of the most exciting markets in the United States, largely due to the presence of the University of South Florida. USF is a huge pipeline for talent. We’re going to put the city on the map as one of those places in America where the best and brightest want to be and having a Preeminent university, USF, is a huge part of that.” - Bob Buckhorn, mayor of Tampa

“Congratulations to the administration, faculty and students of USF for achieving this milestone. USF stands as a shining example of how an institution can conduct world-class research without sacrificing its commitment to teaching. USF has long been a pillar of our Tampa Bay community and it’s time it was recognized for its importance to all of Florida.” - Rep. Chris Sprowls, USF alumnus

“I’ve watched USF, really over the last couple of decades, go on a remarkable trajectory and I’ve been very impressed by the vision and the energy and the boldness that USF has demonstrated. This is a university that is on the move.” - Andrew Hamilton, New York University president

“It is truly exciting for USF to receive the Preeminence status from the state of Florida, but alumni will tell you that USF has long been Preeminent before today. Under President Genshaft’s leadership, the university is in the fast lane and there’s no limit to the success that the university will achieve.” - Joie S. Chitwood III, executive vice president and chief operating officer of International Speedway Corporation, USF alumnus

“It is no surprise that USF has achieved Preeminent status. Under the leadership of President Judy Genshaft, the university has become a consistent leader in education, health, grants, contracts and patents, community and military outreach and a host of other achievements. USF is one of the largest drivers of innovation in our region and will serve to sustain and propel our economy in the future.” - Rhea Law, chair of the Florida offices of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, USF alumna

“I believe that USF is on the cutting edge of research. You can come to this university and truly make an impact because of the youth and agility of innovative, growing programs. Receiving this Preeminent designation will help elevate areas of research and prepare our students to enter the workforce in a high-demand, competitive field.” - Robert Frisina, distinguished professor, director of USF’s Biomedical Engineering Program and the USF Global Center for Hearing & Speech Research, and internationally recognized leader in the field of age-related hearing loss

“While others schools that I considered mainly discussed their past achievements, it was USF that placed an emphasis on the future and how there were no limits to what we could accomplish. This Preeminent designation reinforces the idea that this university is truly limitless.” - Keerthana Nimmagadda, USF student studying biomedical sciences and a National Merit Scholarship finalist from San Ramon, CA

About the University of South Florida

The University of South Florida, established in 1956 and located in Tampa, is a high-impact global research university dedicated to student success. The USF System includes three separately accredited institutions: USF, USF St. Petersburg and USF Sarasota-Manatee. Serving more than 50,000 students, the USF System has an annual budget of $1.8 billion and an annual economic impact of $4.4 billion. USF ranks in the top 30 nationally for research expenditures among public universities, according to the National Science Foundation. In 2018, the Florida Board of Governors designated USF as a Preeminent State Research University, placing USF in the most elite category among the state’s 12 public universities. USF is a member of the American Athletic Conference.

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