The Florida Board of Governors (BOG) unanimously confirmed Rhea Law as the president of the University of South Florida at a meeting held in Jacksonville Wednesday.
Law will become the first USF alum to fill the role, which comes with a big paycheck. Under her three-year contract, Law is set to earn between $764,311 and $1.1 million annually. Law’s base salary, under her agreement, will be $655,000. She will be allotted an additional $131,000 as deferred compensation every year of the contract. She could also earn up to $300,000 in performance bonuses each year — an amount determined by the USF Board of Trustees and its chair, Will Weatherford.
The USF board of trustees unanimously voted last week to name Law as the university’s president-elect.
Law, who has served as USF’s interim president since August, will replace former president Steven Currall. Currall announced last July his plans to retire after just two years leading the institution. While interim president, Law received the same compensation as Currall, with base pay starting at $575,000 annually and a monthly vehicle and housing stipend of $8,000 a month.
“Rhea Law has worked tirelessly for many years to advocate for the University of South Florida and strengthen the entire Tampa Bay region through her commitment to civic engagement and public service,” BOG Chair Brian Lamb said in a statement. “Rhea is a proven leader who will continue USF’s trajectory of excellence.”
Law will become the university’s eighth president and the first USF alum to lead the institution.
Under Law’s leadership, USF experienced the “most transformational” Legislative Session in the university’s history, with record-setting investments in operations on all three campuses. That includes $75 million alone from the state for the university’s proposed Environmental & Oceanographic Sciences Research & Teaching Facility.
Law is credited with leading the effort to complete USF’s new five-year strategic plan, creating a collaborative working group to develop a more transparent budget model and fostering greater communication across all USF campuses.
“Today’s confirmation by the Board of Governors is a recognition of the University of South Florida’s tremendous momentum,” Law said in a statement. “I am continuously inspired by the dedication of our students, faculty, staff, alumni and others within our community to shaping a better world and changing lives. It’s their passion, commitment and talent that will make the next era for USF our finest yet.”
The board’s selection of Law comes after a seven-month national search process. Approximately 2,000 respondents participated in an online survey to gather feedback on specific qualities they’d like to see in a new president, according to the university. Hundreds of students, faculty and staff also participated in town hall meetings, followed by candidate interviews and visits on all three campuses.
Law previously served as chair of the university’s board of trustees, becoming the first and only woman to date to lead the board. She’s also an alumna of the university, earning a degree in management before going to Stetson University College of Law for her law degree.
Law is the former chief executive officer and chair of the board of Fowler White Boggs, a Florida law firm. She led the merger of Fowler with a national firm, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, in 2014.
She is also a founding member of the board of directors of the USF Law Alumni Society. In addition, Law served as a member of the USF Research Foundation Board and was named a 2018 Distinguished Alumna by the USF Alumni Association. She previously served on the board of directors for the Tampa Bay Technology Forum and the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute, and currently serves on Moffitt’s National Advisory Board.