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University of South Florida

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

University of South Florida
University of South Florida seal.svg
MottoTruth and Wisdom
TypePublic research university
EstablishedDecember 18, 1956; 63 years ago (December 18, 1956)
Parent institution
State University System of Florida
AffiliationUniversity of South Florida St. Petersburg
University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee
Academic affiliations
Space Grant
Endowment$513.5 million (2019)[2]
ChancellorMartin Tadlock (St. Petersburg campus)
Karen Holbrook (Sarasota-Manatee campus)
PresidentSteven C. Currall
ProvostRalph Wilcox
Academic staff
16,028[citation needed]
Students51,646 (2019–2020)[3]
Undergraduates37,350 (2019–2020)[3]
Postgraduates11,477 (2019–2020)[4]
Other students
Non degree seeking: 2,219
Location, ,
United States
Total: 1,612 acres (6.5 km2)
Tampa campus: 1,562 acres (6.3 km2)
St. Petersburg campus: 47 acres (0.2 km2)
Sarasota-Manatee campus: 3 acres (0.0 km2)
ColorsGreen and Gold[5]
Sporting affiliations
NCAA Division IThe American
MascotRocky the Bull
University of South Florida logo.svg

The University of South Florida (USF) is a public research university in Tampa, Florida. It is part of the State University System of Florida. Founded in 1956, USF is the fourth largest public university in the state of Florida and tenth largest in the United States, with an enrollment of 51,646 as of the 2019–2020 academic year.[6] Previously identified as a university system from 1965–2020, USF is now one university geographically distributed across three campus locations: Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee.[7] The university is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.[7] USF is home to 14 colleges, offering more than 180 undergraduate majors, graduate, specialist, and doctoral-level degree programs.[8]

Designated by the Florida Board of Governors as a "Preeminent State Research University,"[9] USF is classified among "R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity".[10] In its 2018 ranking, the Intellectual Property Owners Association placed USF 1st in Florida, 7th in the United States, and 16th worldwide in the number of US patents granted.[11] USF faculty, staff, students, and alumni collectively hold over 2,400 patents. USF is home to the National Academy of Inventors and the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame is located in the USF Research Park in the southwest side of campus.[12] The university has an annual budget of $1.8 billion and an annual economic impact of over $4.4 billion.[13] According to the National Science Foundation, USF spent $568 million on research and development in 2019, ranking it 43rd in the nation and 25th among public universities.[14][15]

USF's sports teams are known as the Bulls and compete in the American Athletic Conference of NCAA Division I. USF's varsity teams have won 148 conference championships and six national championships.[a] Athletes representing the Bulls have won an additional 16 individual and relay national championships.


Hillsborough Army Airfield, also known as Henderson Airfield, on the site of what is now the University of South Florida.
Hillsborough Army Airfield, also known as Henderson Airfield, on the site of what is now the University of South Florida.

USF was the first independent state university conceived, planned, and built during the 20th century.[16] Former U.S. representative Samuel Gibbons was instrumental in the school's creation when he was a state representative and is considered by many to be the "Father of USF". [17] Although founded in 1956, the university was not officially named until the following year, and classes did not begin until 1960.[16] The university was built off Fowler Avenue on the site of Henderson Air Field, a World War II airstrip.[16] Before Henderson Field, the area was part of the 1920s 5,000-acre temple orange grove, the largest citrus grove in the world at the time, which gave the nearby City of Temple Terrace its name. In 1957, the Florida Cabinet approved the name "University of South Florida".[16] At the time, USF was the southernmost university in the state university system.[16] In 1962, the official USF mascot was unveiled as the "Golden Brahman", named after the state's cattle raising industry.[16] In the early 1980s, the mascot evolved into the "Bulls".[18]

Founded as a school for whites only, the university admitted its first African-American student, Ernest Boger, during the school's second year after opening in 1961. Boger graduated in 1964 with a B.A. in psychology.[19]

The university grew under the leadership of John S. Allen, who served as its first president from 1956 until his retirement in 1971.[16] During this time, the university expanded rapidly, due in part to the first master's degree programs commencing in 1964.[16] Allen was known for his opposition to college sports in favor of an environment more academically-centered. Allen's ultimate legacy was to be the first person to build a modern state university from scratch: "As a completely new and separate institution, the University of South Florida became the first new institution of its kind to be conceived, planned and built in the United States in the 20th century".[20] Today the John and Grace Allen Administration Building, named after the university's founding president and his wife, houses vital Tampa campus departments including Student Affairs, the Admissions Welcome Center, and the Controller's Office.[21]

In 1970, M. Cecil Mackey became the university's second president.[16] During his time at USF, Mackey opened the university's medical school, School of Nursing, and first-ever Ph.D. program.[16][22] Additionally, Mackey worked to strengthen the St. Petersburg campus, while opening new satellite campuses in Sarasota and Fort Myers.[16] While serving as university president, Mackey continued to teach economics courses in a conference room across from his office.[22] Mackey first coined a new descriptor for USF: "a metropolitan university".[22] The term is still used to describe USF today.

USF emerged as a major research institution during the 1980s under the leadership of the university's third president John Lott Brown.[23] During his tenure, the USF Graduate School was established in 1980.[16] In 1986, Brown oversaw the opening of the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute on the USF Tampa campus.[16] USF became the first university in the nation to offer a Ph.D. in applied anthropology and the first in the State University System of Florida to offer a degree program in women's studies.[16] In January 1988, USF Lakeland opened.[16]

On February 15, 1988, Francis T. Borkowski was inaugurated as the university's fourth president.[16] He served as president for five years, laying the groundwork for the university's football program, establishing on-campus housing for the USF president at the Lifsey House, and merging several colleges into the College of Arts and Sciences.[24]

Betty Castor became the university's fifth president and first female president when she was inaugurated in January 1994.[16] She served as USF president for six years until 1999. During this time, USF grew to be one of the largest universities in the nation in terms of enrollment.[16] The Florida Board of Regents named USF a "Research 1" University in 1998.[16] In 1997, the university began its inaugural season of NCAA football.[16] Two years later, the Herd of Thunder marching band debuted.[16] In 2006, Castor returned to USF to lead the Dr. Kiran C. Patel Center for Global Solutions.[25] Castor stepped down from her position as director in 2009.[26]

Under previous president Judy Genshaft's leadership, the university has emerged as a top research university (achieving preeminence in June 2018,[27]) and major economic engine with an annual economic impact of $3.7 billion.[7] The university has expanded its global reach, with the opening of the first Confucius Institute in Florida in 2008 and the creation of the Genshaft/Greenbaum Passport Scholarship Fund in 2011, which provides financial support to USF students who want to study abroad.[16] Under Genshaft, USF has continuously been ranked among the top veteran-friendly universities in the country.[10] In 2009, USF became the first university in the nation to partner with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs to offer specialized services for veterans taking advantage of the new G.I. Bill.[16] USF continues to improve academically, being ranked among the best colleges in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.[10] In 2012, USF was recognized as one of the nation's largest producers of Fulbright Program scholars.[10] In 2018, Genshaft announced her retirement from position as president of USF. [28]

The university is currently led by its seventh president, Dr. Steven C. Currall, who took office on July 1, 2019.[16]

Seal and colors

In 1958, President John Allen commissioned a seal for the new university, wanting a symbol that would represent education on a global scale. Each element of the seal has a special meaning:

  • The Sun represents life to all living things
  • The lamp symbolizes learning
  • The globe signifies the broadened perspective and opportunities provided by higher education.

President Allen's wife, Grace, suggested green and gold to be USF's colors. Green represents all life on Earth and gold symbolizes the life giving heat and light of the Sun.[29]


In 2018, USF was classified as the third Preeminent university in Florida by the state university system.[30] For a public institution to achieve a status of preeminence, they must meet or surpass benchmarks in at least 11 of 12 metrics set forth by Florida lawmakers. Some of these metrics include student quality, student success (freshman and graduation retention), faculty quality, post-doctoral support, research productivity, and endowment/private funding.[31] When Florida lawmakers first introduced the 12 metrics that would be used in assessing if a university would be designated preeminent in 2013, USF only surpassed benchmarks for half of the metrics, earning them the designation "emerging preeminence". Starting with the 2018–2019 school year, the University of South Florida was designated as a preeminent research university, having met or surpassed benchmarks for 11 of the 12 metrics. The metric that USF did not meet the benchmark for was endowment, which was $442 million – below the benchmark of $500 million.[31] USF has since surpassed the $500 million endowment benchmark.


USF is a member institution of the State University System of Florida (SUSF), which is overseen by the Florida Board of Governors.[32] Each SUSF member institution, including USF, has a 13-member decision-making body called the Board of Trustees (BOT).[33] The USF BOT appoints the USF president, who also serves as the chancellor of the Tampa campus and in turn appoints the chancellors of the St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee campuses.[34]

Person Position Tenure
John S. Allen President 1957–1970
Harris Dean Interim President 1970–1971
M. Cecil Mackey President 1971–1976
W. Reece Smith, Jr. Interim President 1976–1977
Carl Riggs Interim President 1977–1978
John Lott Brown President 1978–1988
Francis T. Borkowski President 1988–1993
Robert A. Bryan Interim President 1993–1994
Betty Castor President 1994–1999
Thomas Tighe Acting President Fall 1999
Richard Peck Interim President 1999–2000
Judy Genshaft President 2000–2019
Steven C. Currall President 2019–present


Before being consolidated into one university geographically distributed, the University of South Florida System included three member institutions: USF Tampa, USF St. Petersburg, and USF Sarasota-Manatee.[34] Each institution was separately accredited, had a distinct mission, and its own strategic plans.[34] The USF System once included two other satellite campuses, one in Fort Myers and the other in Lakeland. The Fort Myers campus opened in 1974 and closed in 1997, with the debut of Florida Gulf Coast University.[36] The Lakeland campus opened in 1988 and split off from the USF System in 2012 to become the independent Florida Polytechnic University.[37]

The 212 foot tall water tower on USF's Tampa campus
The 212 foot tall water tower on USF's Tampa campus

Tampa Campus

Established in 1956, the USF Tampa campus serves more than 41,000 students.[38] It is composed of the larger campus in Tampa, USF Health, and the College of Marine Science in St. Petersburg. The institution houses 14 colleges and is the doctoral granting campus of USF. The University of South Florida Office of Graduate Studies[39] serves as the center of leadership for graduate education at the University of South Florida.

St. Petersburg Campus

USF first occupied the site of the USF St. Petersburg in 1965.[16] In 2006, USFSP was accredited as a separate entity within the University of South Florida System by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools starting with the 2006–07 academic year.[40] USFSP serves approximately 4,500 students and offers 33 undergraduate and graduate programs in arts and sciences, business, and education.[38]

Sarasota-Manatee Campus

When USF Sarasota-Manatee was established in 1975, it originally shared a campus with the New College of Florida.[41] New College and USFSM continued to share campuses until a new campus was built for USFSM in 2006.[42] Nearly 2,000 students take classes at USFSM each year. The campus offers 43 academic programs and certificates in arts and sciences, business, education, and hospitality and technology leadership.[43]


Muma College of Business building.
Muma College of Business building.

The USF Tampa campus offers more than 80 undergraduate majors and 130 graduate, specialist, and doctoral degree programs under 14 colleges.[8] Based on a semester system, the USF academic calendar is composed of three academic semesters each year.[44] The academic year begins in the fall, running from August to December.[44] The spring semester generally begins in January and ends in late April or early May.[44] The summer semester is broken down into three overlapping sessions – A, B, and C – that generally span either six or ten weeks.[44]


For the 2020–21 academic year, tuition costs at the Tampa campus were:[45]

$211.19 per credit hour for in-state students, and $575.01 per credit hour for out-of-state students. Total tuition/fees :$6,410 for in-state and $17,324 for out of state
$431.43 per credit hour for in-state students, and $877.17 per credit hour for out-of-state students. Total tuition/fees :$10,428 for in-state and $21,126 for out of state


More than 41,000 students were enrolled at the USF Tampa campus in the 2014–15 academic year, including approximately 30,000 undergraduate students, 9,100 graduate students, 650 doctor of medicine students, and 2,000 non-degree seeking students.[38] USF is one of the 40 most diverse universities in the nation, with students representing every state, U.S. territory, and more than 130 countries.[10][46] International students represent approximately seven percent of the USF student population.[38] As of the Fall 2014 semester, the student diversity profile of the university consisted of: 55 percent White, 12 percent African American, 21 percent Hispanic, 7 percent Asian/Pacific Islander, 0.16 percent American Indian, 4 percent two or more races, and 1 percent of students did not report.[38]

The Fall 2014 Freshman class of approximately 3,000 students earned admission to the university with an average SAT score of 1191 (reading and math only), ACT score of 27, and high school GPA of 4.00. 51 percent of the members of the incoming class graduated in the top 20 percent of their high school class. Among the incoming class were 8 National Merit Scholars, 7 National Achievement Scholars, and 6 National Hispanic Scholars.[38]


For 2020–2021, U.S. News & World Report ranked USF as tied for #103 overall on its list of Tier I National Universities and #46 among public universities. This made USF the fastest rising university in America, jumping 78 spots on the overall list and 54 spots on the public university list in 10 years.[65] This ranking also put USF as #4 in Florida overall and #3 in Florida among public universities. Compared to institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities (AAU), the group of the top 65 universities in North America, USF ranks higher than Iowa State University, the University of Kansas and the University of Missouri and is tied with the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Oregon.[66] In other rankings released by U.S. News, USF is the only Florida university in the Top 10 Best Value Colleges, at No. 8 among public universities. USF also ranks #17 in the nation overall, #12 in the nation among public institutions and #1 in Florida on the U.S. News ranking of top National Universities for Social Mobility.


Colleges at the USF Tampa campus include:[67]

The Natural and Environmental Sciences building.
The Natural and Environmental Sciences building.

The Honors College at the University of South Florida in Tampa, FL is one of fourteen colleges that offers programs for students.[68] The Honors College was designed to support student success for academically advanced undergraduate students at USF.[69] The students benefit from advanced, specialized courses that focus on discussion and debate, close interaction with faculty and staff, and research opportunities.[70]


As of Fall 2014, there are more than 1,700 instructional faculty at the USF Tampa campus.[38] As of Fall 2013, the student to faculty ratio for the USF Tampa campus was 24:1.[38] Approximately 86 percent of full-time faculty members hold terminal degrees in their field of expertise. Additionally, the university has more than 1,200 adjunct professors, 300 post-doctoral scholars, over 2,000 graduate assistants, and 2,800 student assistants.[38]

USF faculty continue to be recognized on the global academic stage with over 35 scholars receiving prominent scholarly awards since 2009, including Fulbright, National Science Foundation, AAAS, Guggenheim, and National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships.[10] In 2012, a USF professor, Autar Kaw, was one of four in the nation to receive the prestigious Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and Council for Advancement and Support of Education 2012 U.S. Professor of the Year award.[71]


The first USF Commencement ceremony was held in 1963 where 325 degrees were conferred.[72] Commencement ceremonies are held three times a year at the end of the Fall, Spring, and Summer semesters.[73] Spring ceremonies are generally the largest, with five separate ceremonies held each semester.[72] Ceremonies for the USF Tampa campus are held in the USF Sun Dome.[73] Since 2013, graduate's names have been announced by Associate Athletic Director Jim Louk, the "Voice of the Bulls" who is known as the radio announcer for Bulls football and basketball games.[74] The university livestreams each ceremony for out-of-town guests to watch online.[73]


USF Tampa main library
USF Tampa main library

The USF Tampa Library is the largest and most comprehensive library in the USF System.[75] In addition to providing students access to more than 2 million academic journals, databases, and books, the seven-story USF Tampa library offers tutoring and writing services, laptops, a career resource center, and Course Reserves and reservable group study rooms.[75] The USF Tampa Library also houses several Special and Digital Collections, including literature, oral histories, photographs, artifacts, and the university archives.[76] In 2012, the USF Tampa Library opened the Science, Math and Research Technology (SMART) Lab, a hands-on learning space which includes more than 300 computer work stations.[77] In 2013, USF students successfully protested to keep the library open 24 hours a day/5 days a week during the Fall and Spring semesters for current students, faculty and staff who possess a valid USF ID card.[78]

In addition to the Tampa library, the USF Libraries system includes two regional libraries[79] and USF Health Libraries. The regional libraries are the Nelson Poynter Memorial Library, located on the USF St. Petersburg campus, and the Jane Bancroft Cook Library, located on the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus.[79]

USF Health Libraries serve the USF Health community, with two locations, the Hinks and Elaine Shimberg Health Sciences Library, located on the USF Tampa campus[80] and the Florida Blue Health Knowledge Exchange,[81] located at the USF Health campus in downtown Tampa.[80] Also, the USF Health Libraries beyond providing support to USF students, staff, and faculty, the libraries welcome members of the public who are doing health- and medical-related research of their own.[80]


USF is one of the fastest growing research universities in the nation, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.[10][third-party source needed] In the 2010–2011 fiscal year, the university was awarded more than $400 million in research awards.[82] The Intellectual Property Owners Association ranked USF among the top ten universities in the world granted U.S. utility patents in 2011.[10] USF is also a member of the National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program.[83]

Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation in Tampa.
Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation in Tampa.

USF Health

USF Health consists of the Morsani College of Medicine, College of Nursing, College of Pharmacy, College of Public Health, the School of Biomedical Sciences, the School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences, and the USF Physician's Group.[84] USF Health researchers work in the fields of diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, prosthetics, heart health, genomics, and more.[85] In 2012, the College of Nursing ranked first in Florida for universities receiving research funding from the National Institutes of Health.[10]

More than 400 healthcare professionals at USF Health treat patients throughout the state of Florida.[86] In 2012, the university opened the Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation (CAMLS) in downtown Tampa.[87] The 90,000 square foot facility serves as an education and training center for health professionals around the world.[87]


USF was given a gold rating by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education for building an environmentally-conscious campus.[10] In 2010, the USF School of Global Sustainability was created.[88] In 2012, the new Patel College of Global Sustainability, consisting of the Dr. Kiran C. Patel Center for Global Solutions, the Master of the Arts in Global Sustainability Program, and the Office of Sustainability, was introduced.[88] The college is housed in the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design GOLD certified building on the USF Tampa campus.[88]

USF signed the American College and University President's Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) in 2008 and submitted its Climate Action Plan[89] in 2010 with a goal of a 10 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2015.[90] Since then, the university has introduced several sustainability initiatives, including electric vehicle charging stations, water bottle filling stations, reusable plastic food containers in dining halls, recycling programs in residence halls, a biodiesel-fueled fare-free campus bus service, solar-powered golf carts, and more.[91] In 2011, the university introduced the Student Green Energy Fund, which allows students to propose and vote on projects that aim to reduce campus energy consumption, lower green house gas emissions, and promote sustainable technologies.[92]

Engineering buildings at USF.
Engineering buildings at USF.

Center for Urban Transportation Research

Founded in 1988, The Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR) conducts over $13 million in research annually for a variety of public and private sector sponsors in Florida and the United States, including the Florida Legislature, the Florida Transportation Commission, and state and local governments, agencies, and organizations. CUTR houses the National Center for Transit Research (NCTR), designated by the U.S. Congress in 1991, and reaffirmed in 1998, 2002, 2012 and 2013. Areas of research include public transportation, transportation planning, intelligent transportation systems (ITS), transportation demand management (TDM), transportation economics and finance, geographic information systems, access management, alternative fuels, and transportation safety, among others.[93]

Materials Simulation Laboratory

The Materials Simulation Laboratory of the Department of Physics was established in 2002. The MSL researches condensed matter and materials physics using computers as tools.

Campus life

The USF Tampa campus provides multiple services and resources necessary for students to succeed both in the classroom and in their personal lives. Under the Division of Student Affairs, USF students have access to involvement opportunities, on-campus housing, dining facilities, recreational outlets, health and wellness services, and more.[94]

USF Marshall Student Center.
USF Marshall Student Center.

Student union

The original USF student union was built in 1959 and opened in 1960.[95] Originally called the University Center, it was one of the first five buildings that made up the USF Tampa campus when it opened.[95] In its early years, the University Center held the first on-campus women's residence hall, a cafeteria, post office, bookstore, game room, television room, and information desk.[95] Classes were held in the basement and first floor of the building until other academic buildings were completed.[95] The center underwent major renovations from 1988 to 1990.[95] It was renamed the Phyllis P. Marshall Center in 1993, in honor of the woman who served as director of the building from 1976 to 1994.[95]

Marshall Student Center

In order to better serve the growing student population on the Tampa campus, the building was torn down and replaced with a new 230,000 square foot union in 2008.[95] The new facility, now called the Marshall Student Center, still pays homage to its former director.[95] The four-story building features a 1,200 seat ballroom, 800 seat auditorium, 100 workstation computer lab, study and meeting spaces, several student lounge areas, and outdoor courtyards.[96] The facility offers several retail outlets including a pharmacy, computer store, credit union, commuter lounge, and identification card center.[97] The MSC features nine dining options including Panera, Chick-fil-A and Subway.[98]

As the home of the USF Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement, Student Government, the Center for Student Involvement, the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, and the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the center is considered to be the gathering place for all things student life at USF.[99]

Centre Gallery

The Centre Gallery is a student-run exhibition space within the Marshall Student Center for the University of South Florida's students, faculty, staff and alumni offering the university community, and the Tampa Bay area stimulating visual art experiences by consistently exhibiting innovative, contemporary art work. Centre Gallery is the only fully student run exhibition space in the state of Florida.

Centre Gallery, established in 1984, is the only fully student run, non-profit, exhibition space in the state of Florida. Exhibitions run in two-week durations during the Fall and Spring and three-week durations during the summer. These exhibitions are attended by over 4,000 visitors each semester.[100]

Bull statues

The bull statues in front of the Marshall Student Center.
The bull statues in front of the Marshall Student Center.

The university has a total of 9 life size bronze bull statues across the 3 campuses, with 1 on the St. Petersburg campus, 1 on the Sarasota-Manatee campus, and 7 on the Tampa campus (3 in front of the south entrance of the Marshall Student Center, 3 in The Village housing complex, and 1 in front of the student entrance at the Yuengling Center, plus a 15-foot tall topiary bull at the north entrance of the Marshall Student Center). These statues are shrouded in USF tradition. The original three statues (the ones outside the MSC, dubbed the "Running of the Bulls") plus the topiary bull represent the four years a student spends in college, with the topiary bull representing a student's senior year as it symbolizes the student's growth over the past four years and looks directly towards one of the main entrances to campus. Before the addition of more statues, there was said to be a missing fifth bull because it was out exploring the world after graduation.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Plaza

One of the most popular gathering spots on campus is Martin Luther King, Jr. Plaza, which is located between the John and Grace Allen Building and the Marshall Student Center, marked by a small bust of the civil rights activist. Beneath the bust of Dr. King are five granite lines pointing toward the directions of five cities significant to his legacy: Atlanta, Boston, Memphis, Montgomery, and Washington DC. The bust faces a reflecting pool with fountains which marks the geographical center of campus. On the other side of the pool are stone tablets engraved with Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech.[101]

Castor Beach
Castor Beach

Castor Beach

Castor Beach is an artificial beach on campus by the lake outside of Betty Castor Hall, one of the dorms on campus.[102] The beach is complete with white sand taken from the nearby Clearwater Beach, which is regularly voted as one of America's best beaches.[103] The area has hammocks and chairs with umbrellas and is a popular spot for relaxing on campus. Swimming in the lake is not allowed due to alligators.


Juniper-Poplar Hall.
Juniper-Poplar Hall.

There are 39 residence halls on the USF Tampa campus, offering traditional, suite, and apartment-style housing.[104] In total, these residential halls provide housing to more than 5,600 students.[104] The university also offers specialized housing options such as family housing, female-only housing, graduate student housing, and 14 houses in the Greek Village.[104] Each bedroom on the USF Tampa campus is furnished with a twin extra-long bed, dresser, desk, and chair, trash can, and closet space for every resident.[104] Each residence hall has at least one resident assistant.

In 2009, the university implemented a new policy requiring all first-year, full-time undergraduate students to live on campus.[105] The goal of the policy is to provide new students with a comprehensive educational experience.[105] Students exempt from this new rule include those who remain living with their parents and/or legal guardians within Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties, are above the age of 21 by the first day of fall classes, have a dependent child or family member, or are married.[105]

The university offers 12 Living Learning Communities (LLCs) in residence halls throughout the Tampa campus.[106] The residential communities place special interest on academic majors or areas of interest, such as business, education, and sustainability.[106] Residents are required to submit an application and meet certain eligibility criteria to be admitted into an LLC.[106]

Campus recreation

The Campus Recreation Center on the USF Tampa campus is a 21,000 square foot, WiFi-enabled fitness facility featuring a two-basketball court gymnasium, six group fitness rooms, an indoor suspended three-lane running track, 120 pieces of cardio equipment, six racquetball courts, and an indoor swimming pool.[107] Inside the facility, members can workout, take group fitness classes, play intramural sports, rent equipment, receive personal training, undergo fitness assessments, and more.[108] The Campus Recreation Center was also the first on campus home to USF's men's basketball team, who played three home games there in 1978–79 before the completion of the Sun Dome, and hosted all of the women's basketball team's home games in 2011–12 while the Sun Dome underwent massive renovations.[109] In addition to the Campus Recreation Center, there are other, smaller fitness facilities in the USF Tampa campus: The Fit in the Village complex, the WELL in USF Health, and the Magnolia Fitness Center within the Magnolia Apartments dorm.[110]

Through Campus Recreation, the USF Tampa campus offers more than 30 intramural sports throughout the academic year.[111] USF Campus Recreation also maintains USF Riverfront Park, located 1.5 miles away from the Tampa campus.[112] The recreational park is only open for use to USF students, faculty, and staff.[112] Located on the Hillsborough River, the park boathouse offers canoeing, kayaking, and paddleboarding.[112] Groups can sign up to climb the 55-foot high ropes course located at the park, which features three levels of challenges.[112] A less challenging version of the ropes course, called the low ropes workshop, allows teams to participate in trust-building exercises and group problem solving.[112] The park also has an 18 hole disk golf course.[113]

The Outdoor Recreation department of USF Campus Recreation hosts several recreational trips throughout the year.[114] USF students, faculty, and staff can sign up to participate in guided backpacking, tubing, white water rafting, kayaking, and hiking trips both in Florida and throughout the Southeast United States.[114] Outdoor Rec regularly hosts "beach days" during which the department provides transportation to and from nearby beaches including Fort De Soto Park, Clearwater Beach, and Honeymoon Island State Park.[114] Additionally, the department hosts moonlight canoeing trips at USF Riverfront Park four times a semester.[114]

Student involvement

There are more than 600 registered student organizations at USF, including academic, professional, special interest, Greek, and multicultural groups.[115] USF students are welcome to join existing organizations or apply to create their own.[115] The USF Center for Student Involvement, located in the Marshall Student Center, provides multiple programs throughout the academic year, including the University Lecture Series, Homecoming Week, USF Week, and more.[115] In addition to the Center for Student Involvement, the Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement offers numerous opportunities for organization involvement, personal and organizational leadership development, and community service.[116]

Fraternity and sorority life

There are more than 40 fraternities and sororities recognized by the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life on the USF Tampa campus.[117] Four councils govern these chapters: the Interfraternity Council, the National Pan-Hellenic Council, the Panhellenic Association, and the Unified Greek Council.[117] Greek Village, a residential area on the USF Tampa campus offers housing for members of 12 fraternities and sororities.[118]

Fraternities Sororities


The USF Tampa campus offers three Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) programs: Air Force, Army, and Navy.[119] USF is one of only 38 universities in the nation to offer all three service ROTC programs.[120] The university was the first in the nation to create a Joint Military Leadership Center (JMLC) to house all three programs.[120] Located in the C.W. Bill Young Hall, the JMLC is a 53,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility featuring a weapons simulation room, an outdoor rappelling wall, a joint cadet and midshipmen lounge, three lecture halls, and five classrooms.[120] The building is equipped to handle web-casting, video conferencing, and distance learning.[120]

The university offers three military-related minors at the Tampa campus.[119] The sixteen-credit hour Aerospace Studies Minor provides an understanding of military officer management and leadership concepts, as well as an analysis of the evolution of American defense policy and strategy.[119] The eighteen-credit hour Military Science Minor provides students with an in-depth understanding of Army leadership doctrine and a framework for applying such concepts outside of the classroom.[119] The eighteen-credit hour Naval Science and Leadership Minor places special emphasis on character development and effective communication skills, while providing an understanding of the Naval leadership doctrine and the fundamental principles used by leaders in the Navy and Marine Corps.[119]

Students enrolled in a USF ROTC program have the opportunity to live in the on-campus ROTC Living Learning Community (LLC).[121] Located in the suite-style Maple Hall, the ROTC LLC allows students to be exposed to the customs of each military branch, while developing camaraderie with their fellow cadets and midshipmen.[121]

Student Government

The USF Student Government, like all Florida student governments, is an agency of the state created under Florida Statute 1004.26.[122] Student Government, made up of 250 student volunteers and employees, is responsible for advocating for students at the university, local, state and national levels.[122] The Student Senate allocates and expends over $17 million in activity and service fees a year by Florida law.[122] The Student Government is set up much like the federal government and is bound by the Student Body Constitution, student government statutes, university regulations, and applicable law.

The executive administration oversees several departments and service agencies including SAFE Team, Student Government Computer Services, and Bulls Radio.[122] The Student Body President can also be voted in to sit on the University Board of Trustees and is a member of the Florida Student Association (FSA).[122]

The Student Senate, headed by the Senate President and Senate President Pro-Tempore, creates legislation and allocates and expends activity and service fee funds per Florida Statute 1009.24.[122] The senate has 60 seats that are filled by the 14 colleges. Each college is allotted a certain number of seats depending on the size of the college.[122] The Senate carries out its duties mostly through committees.[122]

The Student Supreme Court, headed by the Chief Justice, hears cases involving students and Student Government and also hear all final parking appeals for students at the USF Tampa campus.[122]

Career Services

Housed in the Student Services building near the center of campus, the University of South Florida Career Services[123] offers support to students and alumni in the process of dreaming, planning, and achieving their career goals. The on-site staff of Career Counselors teaches students how to use a strategic approach in planning for a career path and job search. Career Services helps undergraduates self-assess, learn how to conduct career research, seek out experiences that will give you transferable skills, and search for full-time employment or prepare for graduate school. The office also provides similar assistance to graduate students and alumni to break onto the scene in their field of study and assist them in creating a brand for themselves and gain the tools necessary to be a real competitor in the workforce.

Career Services is responsible for a host of networking and professional development opportunities[124] on campus, including career fairs, resume workshops, mock interviews with recruiters from local businesses, professional etiquette dinners, and virtual job searching through Employ-A-Bull. USF Career Services also collaborates with several student organizations such as Alpha Kappa Psi Professional Business Fraternity, Delta Epsilon Iota Academic Honor Society,[125] the American Marketing Association as well as the College of Business to hold on-campus events for the student body throughout the academic year.[126][127]

University and student media

Beginning in 1961, a local afternoon newspaper, The Tampa Times, covered university news in the one-page weekly "Campus Edition".[128] Now defunct, the newspaper was succeeded by The Oracle.[128] First published in 1966, the weekly broadsheet was distributed every Wednesday.[128] Housed today in the Student Services Building of the Tampa campus, the student-run newspaper is published four times a week during the Fall and Spring semesters and twice a week during the Summer semesters.[128] The 12,000 circulation newspaper has been recognized by the Society of Professional Journalists and the Associated Collegiate Press for excellence in journalism.[128]

Owned by USF, WUSF (FM) first began airing in 1963.[16] A member station of National Public Radio, the broadcast studio is located on the USF Tampa campus.[129] Currently, the FM station broadcasts NPR and local news during the day and jazz music in the overnight hours.[130] The station is funded by local corporate and private contributors, as well as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and is affiliated with the Public Broadcasting Service.[130] In 2003, WUSF 89.7 became the first public radio station in the nation to broadcast a digital signal.[129] Today, WUSF Public Media offers local and national news coverage, educational programming, and jazz and classical music through WUSF 89.7, WUSF 89.7², WSMR 89.1, WEDQ, IntellisMedia, and WUSF New Media.[129]

The student-run radio station at USF, now known as Bulls Radio, first went on the air in 1988.[131] Formerly known as "WBUL" until 2009, the original station broadcast from the Andros building on the Tampa campus.[131] The station has since moved to the Marshall Student Center, where student reporters and DJs broadcast from a studio featuring a window that overlooks the Bullpen restaurant.[131] Now one of the largest student-run radio stations in the state of Florida, Bulls Radio can be heard on 1620 AM, 88.5 HD2 or online.[131]


USF's water tower lit up green after a Bulls win
USF's water tower lit up green after a Bulls win

USF's hand sign is "Horns Up", similar to Texas's "Hook 'em Horns". The signal is used as good luck during field goals, extra points, free throws, and as a general greeting or show of school spirit.

Since 1995, the university has shined green lights as opposed to the usual white lights on its iconic water tower the night following a victory by any of the Bulls sports teams to let the campus and surrounding area know of the win.[132] The school also lights the water tower green for special events like homecoming and commencement ceremonies.[133]

The Bull Market is an open air weekly market that hosts a combination of vendors, student organizations, and not-for-profit organizations showcasing their products and services. The Bull Market takes place every Wednesday outside the Marshall Student Center and is one of the oldest traditions at USF.[134]

On the floor near the south entrance to the Marshall Student Center sits a large USF seal. Students are told at orientation that if they ever step on the seal from the time between their first ever class until graduation day they will not graduate unless they run outside the building and rub the nose of the large bronze bull statue that sits at the bottom of the hill leading up to the south entrance within 30 seconds. There is a similar superstition with the smaller USF seal in the breezeway of the John and Grace Allen Building, but if a student steps on that seal they must jump into the reflecting pool in the nearby Martin Luther King, Jr. Plaza.

For men's and women's basketball games, rubbing the back hoof of the bull statue outside the student entrance to the Yuengling Center is said to bring the team good luck.

At the St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee campuses, rubbing on the horns of their respective bull statues is said to bring good luck on exams.


Beginning in 1964, homecoming festivities are one of the longest standing traditions at USF. Events include a comedy show, a homecoming ball, a concert, a parade, and a carnival (called Carni-BULL), all leading up to the football game that weekend. Before USF's football team was founded, homecoming took place in the spring semester and led up to a basketball game.[135]

USF Week

In 2009, Tampa mayor Pam Iorio declared April 9 as USF Day. The celebration has evolved to include the entire week of April 9, and features events including a pep rally, talent show, battle of the bands, a birthday celebration for Rocky the Bull, and Bullstock, a music festival which features multiple artists and is opened by the winner of the battle of the bands competition the day prior.[136]

Alma Mater

The university alma mater was composed by USF professor of music Wayne Hugoboom in 1960.[137] The song was the result of a campus competition, for which Hugoboom won the first-place $250 prize.[137] The alma mater was first used in 1961 and can be heard at the opening of every USF Commencement Ceremony.[137] It is also played by the USF Herd of Thunder marching band and Rumble pep band after every football and basketball game.[137]

Golden Brahman March

The Golden Brahman March, the USF fight song, is named after the original USF mascot.[18] In 1962, the university chose the mascot the Golden Brahman because of the state's history in cattle-raising.[18] Although the university mascot has since evolved into the Bulls, the fight song name preserves the history of this USF icon.[18] In 2011, the university athletics department launched a campaign to encourage students, faculty, staff, and fans to memorize the song.[138] Today, incoming students are taught the song, along with other USF cheers, during new student and transfer orientation sessions.

Other songs

"The Bull" (also known as Number 8) is a rallying cry played by the USF Herd of Thunder marching band that encourages fans to stand up and circle the "Go Bulls" hand symbol above their heads.[137]

USF is somewhat unique among colleges in that it has both a fight song and a victory song, March Victorious. March Victorious is played by the Herd of Thunder after every USF win in football and basketball, but unlike the Golden Brahman March or alma mater, is not played at games of sports that do not feature the band or after losses.

During the Golden Brahman March and other USF songs, fans will circle the "Horns up" hand symbol above their heads.


USF competed in its first intercollegiate athletic event on September 25, 1965, when it defeated the Florida Southern College men's soccer team.[139] The university was admitted into the NCAA in 1968, and currently competes at the NCAA Division I level.[16] USF was a charter member of the Sun Belt Conference, joined Conference USA in 1995, was admitted into the Big East Conference in 2003, and is currently a member of the American Athletic Conference.[7] There are nearly 500 student-athletes competing for the university each academic year.[140] The school colors are green and gold.

USF teams have won 148 conference championships, one team NCAA national championship (Women's Swimming in 1985), a team NCAA national runner up finish (Men's Swimming in 1971), 13 individual NCAA national championships (five in Women's Swimming, six in Men's Swimming, and two in Women's Rifle), and three relay NCAA national championships (two in Women's Swimming and one in Men's Swimming). The university no longer sponsors any of the sports in which they won NCAA national championships.[141][142][143] In non-NCAA sanctioned varsity sports, the USF softball team won the American Softball Association National Championships in 1983 and 1984. This was the highest level of college softball at the time as the NCAA didn't start sponsoring the sport until 1985. The Bulls Sailing team won the 2009 Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association Sloop National Championship and the 2016 and 2017 ICSA Offshore Large Boats National Championships.[144][145]


Bulls Athletic wordmark
Bulls Athletic wordmark

The university currently sponsors 17 varsity men's and women's sports, including:[146]

Men's sports Women's sports
Baseball Basketball
Basketball Cross country
Cross country Golf
Football Sailing
Golf Soccer
Soccer Softball
Tennis Tennis
Track and field Track and field
† – Track and field includes both indoor and outdoor.

The university also offers many club teams, including men's and women's rugby, men's and women's lacrosse, and men's ice hockey.[147]


Lee Roy Selmon Athletic Center.
Lee Roy Selmon Athletic Center.

Located along the eastern edge of the Tampa campus, the USF Athletic District is the home for 16 of the Bulls 17 intercollegiate sports.[148] The district includes the Lee Roy Selmon Athletic Center, Corbett Stadium, the Frank Morsani Football Practice Complex, the Pam & Les Muma Basketball Practice Center, the Yuengling Center, The Claw, the USF Baseball Stadium, the USF Softball Stadium, the USF Track and Field Stadium, the Corral, and the USF Varsity Tennis Courts.[148]

Lee Roy Selmon Athletic Center

Opened in 2004, the Lee Roy Selmon Athletic Center is the main hub for USF Athletics.[149] In 2012, the facility was dedicated to the late Lee Roy Selmon, a Pro Football Hall of Fame member and former Director of USF Athletics.[150] Selmon is considered by many to be the "Father of USF Football".[150] The 104,000 square foot facility houses all USF sports teams, except for men's and women's basketball, sailing, and volleyball.[149] The building features a large strength and conditioning center, a sports medicine clinic, the USF Athletic Hall of Fame, and an Academic Enrichment Center complete with a computer study lab, a library, study lounges, and academic counseling.[149]

Yuengling Center

The Yuengling Center on the Tampa campus is the home facility of the men's and women's basketball teams and the women's volleyball team. The first event held in the facility was a basketball game in 1980.[151] Since the opening of the arena, it has been the site for USF Commencement Ceremonies, orientation sessions, and other major university events.[152] The facility has also played host to a number of outside events including sports and entertainment events, consumer shows, religious services, conventions, rodeos, youth sports camps, gymnastics and cheerleading competitions, lectures, and political rallies.[153] The venue is also one of the top concert spots in the Tampa Bay region, having hosted musicians like Elton John, Florence and the Machine, Frank Sinatra, Heart, Sting, and more.[154]

Raymond James Stadium

The USF football team plays at Raymond James Stadium, home to the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers. USF is one of only five FBS teams to play in an NFL stadium (the others being Miami, Temple, Pitt, and UNLV).[155] Located 13 miles away from the Tampa campus, the stadium has a capacity of more than 75,000 people, making it the largest in the American Athletic Conference.[155]

Corbett Stadium

The USF men's and women's soccer teams play at Corbett Stadium, on the main campus in Tampa, Florida. The stadium has over 1,000 seats, plus space for over 2,000 more on the grassy berms that surround the field. Corbett Stadium opened in 2011 and replaced USF Track and Field Stadium as home to the South Florida Bulls men's and women's soccer teams.[156] Corbett Stadium also hosts the USF football team's annual spring game.[157]

Spirit squads

USF Herd of Thunder Marching Band at the Sun Bowl.
USF Herd of Thunder Marching Band at the Sun Bowl.

The USF Spirit Squads — consisting of the USF Sun Dolls, USF Cheerleading, Rocky the Bull, and the Herd of Thunder — play an integral role in USF Athletics.[158] In addition to supporting USF varsity athletic teams during sporting events, the spirit squads themselves compete at the national level.[158]

Rocky the Bull first began as a toy idea for the USF Bookstore in 1965.[18] Today's Rocky was unveiled in 2003.[18] As the official mascot for USF, Rocky the Bull can be seen at USF Athletic events, as well as other major university and community events.[158]

The USF Herd of Thunder consists of several bands, including a 370-member marching band, pep band, show band, and winter guard.[159] The marching band performs at all home USF football games.[159] The pep band, called the Herd of Thunder Rumble Pep Band, performs at all home USF basketball games.[159] The show band is a 30-piece group that performs at select events that are unable to accommodate the full marching band.[159]

Notable alumni

Some notable USF alumni include: [160]

*bachelor's degree unless otherwise noted


  1. ^ Five of the Bulls National Championships came in sports that were not sanctioned by the NCAA at the time, but these teams were varsity teams sponsored by the USF Athletic Department. These championships came in Softball (1983 and 1984 in the American Softball Association) and Sailing (2009, 2016, and 2017 in the Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association). USF's only NCAA National Championship came in Women's Swimming in 1985.


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