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UT President Ronald L. Vaughn
Ronald L. Vaughn

Ronald L. Vaughn served as president of The University of Tampa from January 1995 to May 2024. Under his leadership, the University grew and expanded in a way unlike any period in the institution's history.

During his tenure, University full-time enrollments more than quadrupled, new enrollment records were set in each of the years from 1998 to 2023 and academic programs were expanded to more than 200 areas of study. The University became more and more selective, and its student academic profile steadily increased. Also, retention and graduation rates improved greatly and exceed many peer universities.

Since 1995, the University’s annual budget increased by over 10 times from $28 million to $380 million. The record growth fueled dynamic improvements in both the academic and student life areas. Over 750 new faculty, staff and vendor-contracted positions were added during the past 25 years. Since 1997 and until May 2024, UT’s campus was totally transformed by over 70 completed or underway construction projects totaling over $950 million in value.

In addition to spearheading the University's expansion, President Vaughn acquired more community-based financial support than any UT president before him. Among fundraising achievements, the University raised about $250 million in its first two comprehensive capital campaigns and the third campaign underway at his retirement.

President Vaughn came to The University of Tampa in August 1984 as the coordinator of the marketing department and holder of the Max H. Hollingsworth Endowed Chair of American Enterprise. He also served as director of the MBA program, dean of the College of Business and Graduate Studies, and co-chief academic officer.

He has a bachelor’s degree in marketing and an MBA from Indiana State University, and a doctorate in marketing from the University of Georgia. He also owned his own multi-office marketing research/consulting company where he worked on several hundred projects for a broad clientele. During his academic career at Bradley University, he served as a faculty member and chairman of the marketing department.

During his presidency, Vaughn was active in various community service and leadership roles. He served on numerous boards including the Straz Performing Arts Center, the Gulf Ridge Council of the Boy Scouts, the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce and the Florida Aquarium. He is a past Board Chair of the Tampa/Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation and served on the Tampa Downtown Partnership Board, among others.

Over the years, he received over 40 awards and was inducted into the Tampa Bay Business Hall of Fame. Some of those awards include: The Liberty Bell Award by the Hillsborough County Bar Association for outstanding service by a non-lawyer, Patrons of Culture and the Arts Impact Award (for both Renée and Ron Vaughn), and Outstanding Citizen of the Year Award by the Tampa Metro Civitan organization.

President Vaughn's daughter, Susan, is a University of Tampa graduate and graduated with her veterinary medicine doctorate from the University of Florida.

His wife, Renée, is the president of the Williams Consulting Group, a public relations and marketing firm in Tampa. She is active in the Tampa Bay community as past chair of the Leadership Tampa Class of 2014, past chair of Leadership Tampa Alumni and past president of both the Red Cross Angels and the HB Plant Museum.

In 2015, she received the prestigious Parke Wright III Leadership Award from Leadership Tampa Alumni and was the 2016-2017 Chair of the Circle of Red for the American Heart Association. Also in 2015, Renée was named a Woman of Distinction by the Girl Scouts of West Central Florida and in 2024 was inducted into the Women of Distinction Hall of Fame. In 2019, Renée received the Leadership Award presented by Working Women of Tampa Bay.

On March 24, 2023, Vaughn announced his retirement in May 2024. "lt’s been the greatest honor of my life to lead this incredible University,” Vaughn said in the press release. Watch his announcement video

At the May 2024 commencement ceremony, President Vaughn and Renée were awarded honorary doctorates in public service.