USF is both attracting the best and the brightest to its state-of-the-art facilities while also bolstering its surrounding communities.
The University of South Florida System appraises its campuses’ cities with an eye toward more than just what university-specific buildings might go where. Three recent and major projects in Tampa and St. Petersburg demonstrate the depth and consideration of USF’s planning and care for the communities of which USF is part. The university system has forged powerful and never-before-seen partnerships, to the benefit of students, faculty, and residents.
The USF Health Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute will find a new home in Water Street Tampa, a revitalized area of downtown along Hillsborough Bay. The waterfront area is the world’s first WELL-certified city district, meaning it provides— among meeting other criteria—a number of healthy eating options, access to community gathering spaces (as for group exercise classes), and an emphasis on residents’ health. The Health Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute will be an anchor of the district, and the move will bring 1,800 students, faculty, researchers, and staff nearer to its primary affiliate Tampa General Hospital and also the USF Health Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation, among other facilities.
Such a robust presence of medical researchers and providers promises to bolster each institution, in the way that iron sharpens iron. Every dollar of funding from the National Institute of Health, for example, is predicted to spark $2.35 in local economic activity, and the attractiveness of the area and facilities ensures both an increase in medical school applications— and thus in applicant quality—which in turn helps retain more physicians eager to make a home in the area. Thanks to USF’s involvement, Water Street Tampa is fast becoming a thriving ecosystem of symbiotic relationships.
Meanwhile, on USF’s main campus, the opening of five new residence halls have increased the population of students residing on campus to 6,300, pushing the percentage of degree-seeking undergraduates living in university-owned, controlled or affiliated housing to over 25%. These numbers may seem insignificant, but consider, national research shows that students who live on campus for at least one year are more likely to graduate—and sooner—than their counterparts who never live on campus. The residence halls—Beacon, Summit, Endeavor, Horizon, and Pinnacle— represent a real investment in students’ wellbeing.
The residence halls are also a landmark collaborative event in Florida’s history: the $134 million public-private partnership with Capstone- Harrison Street (a partnership in turn of Capstone Development Partners, LLC, and Harrison Street Real Estate Capital) is the largest in the existence of the State University System. It is also the single largest student-housing project the Florida Board of Governors has ever approved.
The halls’ amenities show a real attentiveness to students’ holistic wellbeing in their inclusion of The Hub and The Fit. The Hub, a Green-certified building, features nearly 500 indoor and outdoor seats, a coffee shop, and an onsite, registered dietician onsite to provide free nutritional counseling for meal-plan holders. Smart Tables, private collaborative spaces, and a 30- top dining room available by reservation are just a few of the amenities available for students.
The Fit, a state-of-the-art, 19,000 square foot facility, offers cardio- and weight-training equipment, an outdoor swimming pool, and a Center for Student Wellbeing, which makes available electronic massage chairs, nap pods, sleep packs, bean bags, soothing music, InBody composition analysis, and wellness tips and information from trained staff.
On the campus of University of South Florida St. Petersburg, the student-housing initiative continues. Once complete, the newest residence hall at USFSP will enable 20% of enrolled students to live on campus—a 70% increase in the overall capacity to do so. The development’s funding was part of the Florida Board of Governor’s decision on the USF housing project, showing just how cohesive the USF system really is. Plans for development also include an affordable dining hall with a variety of menus, meal-plan options, and longer opening hours.
The USF System has paved the way for Tampa and surrounding areas to become sought-after places to live and study, and the support it has leveraged from the state government and local private companies should prove its viability to even the most skeptical of residents and observers alike. In considering cities of the future, Tampa is a forerunner and a beacon the country and world over.