SARASOTA, Fla. (Dec. 19, 2017) – University of South Florida System President Judy Genshaft on Monday formally introduced Dr. Karen Holbrook as regional chancellor of the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee (USFSM).
In a ceremony at the USF Sarasota-Manatee rotunda, Genshaft and USF System Board of Trustees member and USFSM Campus Board Chairman Byron Shinn welcomed Dr. Holbrook and introduced her to members of the community, students, faculty, staff, alumni and Campus Board members. About 100 people attended the reception. Dr. Holbrook starts her new position Jan. 2, 2018.
“I’m really excited about our future, about connecting with our community in all aspects, working closely with our university colleagues in the Cross College Alliance, with local organizations that promote economic development and civic engagement, and with the schools that are so critical to us in producing the young people who are our students,” she said.
Citing Dr. Holbrook’s ties to the Sarasota-Manatee region and “impressive record of accomplishment,” Dr. Genshaft first announced Dr. Holbrook’s appointment Dec. 14 during a meeting of the USF System Board of Trustees. Some of the themes mentioned in that meeting were echoed Monday.
“This is a special moment, not just for USF Sarasota-Manatee but for the entire USF System,” Dr. Genshaft said. “I appreciate so much Karen Holbrook’s leadership skills, her energy and her vision. Her priority is what we all share, and that is student success, and she has such an impressive record of accomplishment in higher education.”
Others were equally pleased with the appointment.
“I am very, very excited,” said Shinn. “We have somebody that knows the USF System, that knows Southwest Florida and that knows what it’s going to take to get us to the next level.”
Dr. Anila Jain, a USFSM Campus Board member, said she was impressed with Dr. Holbrook’s background, both at USF and at universities elsewhere.
“All of her degrees are in the sciences and with the wealth of knowledge she has in research, I just think she’s going to be a tremendous asset to USF Sarasota-Manatee,” she said. “For her tenure here, the next big push is our science and research building. We want to compete not only nationally but globally.”
USFSM alum and fellow Campus Board member Bill Mariotti said of the appointment: “She’s from the University of South Florida, so she knows the System. There’s no learning curve, and I think she’s going to help pull the community together and help build community support for USFSM.”
Dr. Holbrook replaces Interim Regional Chancellor Dr. Terry Osborn, who held that position for nine months.
Holbrook most recently served as executive vice president at USFSM and senior advisor to Genshaft. Prior to that position, she served as the interim president at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, after leaving the University of South Florida where she was senior vice president for research and innovation, then senior vice president for global affairs and international research. Before coming to USF, Holbrook served as president of The Ohio State University from 2002-2007.
Before she led Ohio State, Holbrook served as senior vice president for academic affairs and provost at the University of Georgia, vice president for research and dean of the Graduate School at the University of Florida and associate dean for research and professor of biological structure and medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine. Holbrook has served as a professor at every institution where she has worked.
She also has enjoyed a productive research career in the biomedical sciences and was a MERIT Award recipient from the National Institutes of Health. Additionally, she has served on several editorial boards of professional journals as well as numerous professional and academic boards.
Her resume and vision for the future quickly won over faculty, staff, administrators and others at USFSM, including Campus Board member Rick Piccolo.
“She seems to have the support of all the academia here, as well as the community,” Piccolo said. “I think it’s an excellent choice. In my discussions with her she seems to understand the needs of the community and the needs of USF Sarasota-Manatee.”
Holbrook earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in zoology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a PhD in biological structure at the University of Washington School of Medicine, where she also served as a post-doctoral fellow in dermatology and as a faculty member.
“This is a very special place because people care,” she said of USFSM. “We are doing a lot right with our students. Can we do more? Of course, of course we can, and it’s our challenge to continue to create opportunities and to entice new students to join us, to provide more real-life experiences for current students to connect with the community and to set the stage for their careers and to create additional academic opportunities for new students and also our students here today.”