Jul 20, 2021 - News

Steven Currall retires from USF helm after just 2 years

Photo: USF

Steven Currall announced Monday that he will resign as president of the University of South Florida after just two years leading the school on Aug. 2.

Why it matters: With more than 50,000 students and more than 16,000 faculty and staff, USF is Tampa's 5th largest employer.

  • "The intensity of the past two years has put a strain on my health and my family," Currall said in a statement.

Between the lines: In a Tampa Bay Times profile a year ago, Currall, who ran track and played football growing up, worried that he didn't have enough time for exercise due to meetings and other obligations.

  • He left his role as provost at Southern Methodist University to take over as USF's 7th president on July 1, 2019, replacing Judy Genshaft.
  • His contract, which provided a base salary of $575,000 plus benefits and residence at the Lifsey House, was for five years, ending in 2024.
  • His short tenure stands in stark contrast with Genshaft's two decades at the helm, and his retirement caught faculty by surprise.

The big picture: Currall faced a slew of challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic, overseeing consolidation of USF’s three campuses, cutting the budget and revisiting policy around racial diversity.

  • Last fall, the university announced it would end undergrad programs in the College of Education, which shocked faculty and local school superintendents who rely on grads to teach. The university reversed the decision after public outcry, but the memory still stings.

What we're hearing: "I'm hoping for somebody who understands fundamentally the overall vision of USF, our commitment to racial justice and social justice throughout all the colleges and the commitment to the region," Deanna Michael, past president of the faculty Senate and chair of curriculum, instruction and learning, told Axios.

  • Budget negotiations for education had been moving in a positive direction lately, but Michael said faculty are still haunted by Currall’s decision last fall.
  • "In the college of ed, when you say 'October 14,' people know what you’re talking about," Michael said, referring to the day USF announced it was cutting the program.

What's next: Currall will stay at USF as a tenured full professor of organizational psychology, per his statement.

  • USF provost Ralph Wilcox will become acting president until the Board of Trustees can meet to vote on an interim.

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