Published: July 19, 2023
President Ronald Vaughn Speaks About Last 30 Years at UT
“I always believed you’ve got to think about the future to have one,” said President Ronald Vaughn, in a recent podcast interview with the Tampa Bay Business Journal, reflecting on his nearly 30 years at the helm of The University of Tampa.
In the 28-minute podcast, Vaughn spoke with Tampa Bay Business Journal editor Alexis Muellner about his career trajectory, UT’s growth and his time as president.
“I thought a lot about the future — I would think about the next few years, the next five to 10 years, and I would think further out to 10 and 20 years,” Vaughn said.
Vaughn said the UT population grew in his first year as president in 1995, and “never looked back,” adding that the student population has grown every year since.
From June 1989 to December 1994, prior to being named president, Vaughn served as the dean of the College of Business, the dean of graduate studies and the co-chief academic officer.
Since 1995, there have been 24 years of record enrollment. This Fall, 10,800 students are expected on campus. In 1995, UT’s total enrollment was 2,388.
“We had to change, and change quickly, and people sort of embraced that,” Vaughn said in the interview. “We were going to grow, develop and improve our way out of this, and that’s exactly what we did.”
Early on, Vaughn developed a design plan, which includes “a UT brick.” Every building didn’t have to look alike, he said, but it had to have a UT brick on it. The brick was matched to a certain area of Plant Hall, to give the design a sense of continuity. Other buildings, like the John and Susan Sykes Center for Faith and Values and the Ferman Center for the Arts have more distinctive elements, in addition to the commonality between the buildings.
“We’re not just building buildings, we are building learning environments,” Vaughn said, adding that UT works with faculty to provide the best for the facilities.
Vaughn is set to retire in May 2024, at the end of the academic year.
“There’s no doubt it’s going to be an adjustment,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed my time and leadership and working with others to develop a great institution.”
Next, Vaughn said he plans to write a book about the University’s last 30 years and what was done, why and how, and that offers insights that might be beneficial to others.