The regional chancellor of the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee is poised to embark on a new life adventure as his days with the university wind down and he retires.
Arthur Guilford has served as the university's leader since 2007, capping a 38-year career at one of the region's flagship institutions of higher learning.
His association with USF will not end until January 2015, but he steps down as regional chancellor this week. Guilford, 68, is moving into a new role, helping with the transition to his successor and contributing to special projects.
Guilford's career is marked by major improvements at USF, especially the expansion of educational opportunities.
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Last year turned out to be a watershed for Guilford. Once a purely upper-division, transfer institution, USFSM opened its doors to its first freshman class last fall. The upcoming year will be the first to feature freshmen through senior classes, and along with graduate students, USF joins the ranks of full-fledged universities.
One of our favorite Guilford accomplishments is his work to bridge the gap between USFSM and the region's other key institutions. In collaboration with the leaders at State College of Florida, New College and the Ringling College of Art and Design, Guilford helped establish new alliances to the benefit of students and the community.
After Guilford reached out to the newly appointed presidents of SCF and New College in 2013, educational partnerships blossomed.
USF expanded its partnership with Mote Marine Laboratory by building a state-of-the-art science lab on Mote's Lido Key campus so students could take advantage of the 22 research programs there.
The August 2013 opening dovetailed with the debut of additional science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs for undergraduates.
"Our goal is to keep these best and brightest community assets right here in Sarasota-Manatee," Guilford wrote in a Herald guest column on the eve of the first freshmen on campus and the opening of the school's Mote lab.
Those students -- "the new generation of entrepreneurs, scientists, executives, educators, doctor, lawyers ..." and more, as he wrote -- are vital to the community for greater economic diversity and growth.
In 2011, USFSM endured a grueling accreditation process and gained major decision-making abilities free of USF's Tampa flagship approval. With that piece of paper from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, USFSM can design new programs, make faculty decisions, award diplomas, and make all advising, admissions and financial decisions all on its own.
In 2010, the university opened its North Port Instructional Site, thus spreading its wings and serving students south of the main campus.
This past February, USFSM expanded in Lakewood Ranch with the ribbon cutting of the new Culinary Innovation Lab on Main Street. This gives students in the College of Hospitality and Technology Leadership greater opportunities to excel as the university hopes to become one of the top 10 hospitality schools in the nation by 2020.
Under Guilford, the number of degree programs has jumped, too.
From his beginnings as an assistant professor of communication sciences and disorders to chair of the department to an associate dean at USF-Tampa, Guilford ventured south when named regional chancellor in 2007.
His legacy extends well beyond some of the highlights noted here. He's leaving the university well-positioned for ever greater accomplishments. We thank Guilford for his service and dedication to both USFSM and the entire community.
We wish him and his family well in retirement.