Editor’s note: The story here is part of a series of 40 stories commemorating USF Sarasota-Manatee’s 40th anniversary this academic year. For more about USFSM’s history, please visit usfsm.edu/anniversary.
Byron Shinn, chairman of USF Sarasota-Manatee’s Campus Board, likes what he sees in USFSM’s leadership and the campus’ recently adopted five-year strategic plan.
He uses such terms as “visionary,” “team building” and “invigorated” to describe Regional Chancellor Dr. Sandra Stone, Regional Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs Dr. Terry Osborn and Dr. James Curran, dean of the College of Business, along with others at the campus.
“Sandra really gets it,” he said.
Which is what Shinn – who also is a member of the USF System’s Board of Trustees – was looking for when he served on a committee in 2014 to a find a replacement for longtime Regional Chancellor Dr. Arthur Guilford, who was retiring.
Over the past six years as a trustee, Shinn has helped select a regional chancellor, shape the long-term direction of USFSM and serve as a spokesman for the campus – on the Campus Board, Board of Trustees and elsewhere around the community.
Early on, Shinn, a certified public accountant, said he wanted the campus to develop stronger ties with the community and local businesses in particular. “We needed to improve the university’s position in order to produce more great graduates for the workplace,” he said.
Now, thanks to the leadership of Dr. Stone and others, he’s seeing evidence of that in the degrees USFSM has produced and in the campus’ long-term vision, particularly when it comes to the College of Business and USFSM’s new focus on STEM programs (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).
“I think Dr. Curran is outstanding,” he said. “He’s very much a team builder and I’m excited to see that he’s building bridges with local businesses.”
A USF System trustee, Shinn said his official job is to help guide USF’s long-term strategy. He also oversees USF’s Research and Job Creation Workgroup and serves on the Academic and Campus Environment Workgroup.
Increasingly, he said, the trustee’s job is a demanding one with an estimated 40 percent of his time taken up by USF and USFSM matters. But Shinn says he’s motivated more than ever as he collaborates with Dr. Stone, Dr. Osborn and other USFSM leaders to guide the campus’ future.
Among other things, he was involved in talks with campus leaders when USFSM created its strategic plan rolled out last summer. And he meets regularly with the chancellor to ensure the two are “totally in sync,” including when addressing such groups as the state’s Board of Governors.
“We always know what the other is going to say and we have each other’s back, because we know we have one chance to get it right,” he said.
The owner and managing partner of accounting firm Shinn & Co., with offices in Sarasota and Bradenton, Shinn said he’s seeing the campus adjust to better meet the community’s needs.
“Every one of the trustees wants to hear about what we’re doing and I’ve got to deliver that message,” he said. “And when we speak about our campus, it’s important to say that we are staying connected to the needs of the community, culturally and academically.”
That message resonates not only with fellow trustees but with Gov. Rick Scott, who reappointed Shinn to a six-year term a year ago. He said the governor is attuned to USFSM’s aim to produce graduates who can go on to meaningful careers.
“I probably talk with him several times a year,” Shinn said. “He wants to know what’s going on at USF Sarasota-Manatee and he wants to make sure we are meeting the needs of our community. The governor really cares about what’s going on here.”