Sullivan, appointed to the post in December 2009, said the decision was difficult but the timing is right. “I have accomplished all the goals I set for USF St. Petersburg when I accepted the job,’’ Sullivan said. “Leading an institution of this size in these difficult times has been exhilarating and exhausting and I look forward to new and exciting challenges.’’
A nationally known expert on the accreditation and strategy of higher education institutions, Sullivan served as interim regional chancellor for a year before she was formally appointed in December 2009 after serving as interim chancellor for a year. At that time, USF System President Judy Genshaft called Sullivan “decisive, visionary and inclusive.”
USF President Judy Genshaft thanked Sullivan for her leadership of USF St. Petersburg.
“USF St. Petersburg has thrived under Margaret’s capable leadership,” Genshaft said. “The reaffirmation of USFSP’s accreditation in 2011 and its growing enrollment has solidified its standing as a high-quality institution which delivers excellence in education and serves the needs of its community. Margaret’s guidance of USF St. Petersburg through these critical years of growth have set the institution on a course for distinction.”
Sullivan’s three and a half years were marked by extraordinary progress and unusual challenges for USFSP, a separately accredited, autonomous institution within the USF System. USFSP’s accreditation was reaffirmed in December 2011 by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The university received the elective Carnegie Community Engagement Classification, a distinction few Florida universities have achieved. Research funding increased from $800,000 to nearly $6 million. New academic programs were launched, including Biology, Entrepreneurship, Global business and an online Master’s degree in Digital Journalism and Design. In 2011, USFSP debuted in the U.S. News and World Report ranking of regional universities in the South at No. 36.
Sullivan worked tirelessly to build an independent identity for USFSP, increased philanthropic support and founded the first USFSP Alumni Society. Under her stewardship, the Hough Family Endowed Chair in Florida Studies was created, only the third endowed chair in USFSP history.
Meanwhile, enrollment increased 26 percent while state-appropriated funding decreased 40 percent. Despite that, the USFSP Science and Technology Building was completed, a new University Student Center was funded and is nearly complete and a new Student Life Center is under construction. The former Dali Museum was renovated into Harbor Hall for the Department of Verbal and Visual Arts, an inspired merging of graphic design, professional and technical writing and literature. The Debbie and Brent Sembler Family Fountain and Harborwalk unite the campus. Next up: a building for the College of Business, which the USF Board of Trustees has designated as its top building priority.
“I will miss the many friends I have made on campus and off, but leave confident of a bright future for USFSP,’’ Sullivan said.