Cheers to USF Sarasota-Manatee's rising stature

The University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee is also packing them in -- undergraduate students, that is.

Once a school dedicated solely to juniors, seniors and graduate students, the USF branch campus only started enrolling sophomores in 2012 and freshmen in 2013.

USFSM predicted it would not reach the enrollment cap imposed by State University System Board of Governors until 2017 or 2018.

But the school beat that forecast, hitting the cap in 2014. USFSM Regional Chancellor Sandra Stone told the Herald the school will petition the governors in June for permission to exceed the limit.

That could translate into additional lower-level courses next fall due to demand.

And to further fertilize expansion, the school is discussing adding residence halls to the commuter campus. That would be a major plus. By creating more of traditional college experience, USFSM would attract even more students.

The university is developing a five-year strategic plan for board review in April. "... we're trying to zero in on places where we can really develop signature programs and some depth," Stone said.

This is exciting news for the community. By gaining a reputation for a stronger higher education sector, businesses would look more favorably upon locating or expanding here. Graduates could be a spark on the economy.

The Board of Governors hold the key, and we hope they allow enrollment expansion.