As our city evolves into a primary driver of economic growth and innovation in Florida, it has a nationally-ranked university to help ensure its success: USF St. Petersburg.
As a university we are tasked, of course, with preparing students for careers – to help them succeed in a rapidly changing, competitive job markets. But more than that, we must turn out graduates who are thoughtful, critical thinkers, and who aspire to go out into the world as citizen scholars and insightful leaders.
So how do we teach critical thinking, collaboration and communication? How do we teach students to be adaptable – to innovate in response to changing technologies and work environments?
At USFSP, we are developing alternative ways of involving students in the educational process. One of the ways in which we have been successful is through undergraduate research. Our students have the opportunity to work with faculty who are top in their fields – in psychology, biology and big data, for instance. Through senior capstone projects and upper-division courses, we are engaging students in the solution of significant problems.
USF St. Petersburg students are interning with NASA, at the White House and The Washington Center, as well as with Tampa Bay’s corporate leaders and our partners in the St. Petersburg Innovation District. As President of the District’s board, I am very proud of the work we’ve done to bring together the area’s research partners and promote our roles in the community. This is a tremendous opportunity for us to work closely with each other, but also to be able to provide our students with opportunities to work with our research neighbors, including Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, SRI International and the U.S. Geological Survey.
USF St. Petersburg is pleased to be able to serve as an educational anchor for our city and the Innovation District. I look forward to working closely with our partners and Executive Director Alison Barlow over these next months to reinforce a sense of collaboration and connectedness, and to create a palpable sense of place.