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.
When she arrived, Dr. Sandra Stone, the regional chancellor for USF Sarasota-Manatee, wasted little time tackling two projects that promised to reshape the campus: Creating a five-year strategic plan and removing the cap on freshman and sophomore enrollment.
Within seven months she was checking off both tasks as “complete.” The strategic plan, guiding everything from academic programs to community engagement to student life, proved a challenging undertaking, involving faculty, staff, students and community leaders.
“I think what was so gratifying and impressive to me was the way everybody pulled together to make it happen,” said Dr. Stone, who arrived in November 2014. “There were a lot of different ideas that needed to be integrated for this to happen. It was exciting for me the way everybody pitched in.”
Also exciting was the lifting of USFSM’s enrollment cap in June by the State University System’s Board of Governors.
Their approval allowed USFSM to boost underclassman levels at a pace beneficial to the campus. But Dr. Stone saw the approval as something deeper, as recognition of USFSM’s role and responsibility to provide access to higher education to the local community – a theme she returns to frequently.
“I tend to be community-focused and I think it’s the role of regional, publicly funded colleges and universities to find ways to apply the resources and assets they have to help build a stronger community, whether that’s through economic development or helping to build cultural and social capital,” she said. “I think we are an integral part of the community, and as such it is our responsibility to give back and help the whole community grow and thrive.”