Tampa – Ronald L. Vaughn, who led transformation of The University of Tampa into a model, nationally known institution over his presidential tenure, has announced his retirement. He will retire on May 31, 2024 after almost 30 years of serving as UT’s president.
“lt’s been the greatest honor of my life to lead this incredible University. I’ve had the pleasure of working with so many dedicated and engaged people. We’ve made an impact on hundreds of thousands of students over the years,” Vaughn said. “The University of Tampa has a strong educational foundation, that is attracting excellent students from all over the U.S. and world. The University’s reputation has grown, and the physical campus has been transformed. I believe it’s a good time for the next leader to take over at this great University.
“My wife Renée and I look forward to watching The University of Tampa continue to achieve its mission and help students reach their dreams.”
Vaughn will remain active as president through the next academic year while the UT Board of Trustees, led by Chair Charlotte Baker, hires his successor. A comprehensive, nationwide search will commence immediately with guidance from a search committee.
“lt’s hard to think about UT without Ron Vaughn at the helm,” Baker said. “We can’t thank Ron and Renée enough for their tireless work for the University. UT wouldn’t be what it is today without Ron Vaughn, and he has always had the best interest of the students, faculty and staff in mind as he has constantly strived for excellence in the entire educational experience.”
Vaughn, 76, came to UT in August 1984 as coordinator of the marketing department and holder of the Max H. Hollingsworth Endowed Chair of American Enterprise. He subsequently served as director of the MBA program, dean of the College of Business and Graduate Studies, and co-chief academic officer.
He began his tenure as the 10th president of UT on Jan. 1, 1995, at a time when the University was languishing both financially and academically. Under his leadership, the University has grown and expanded dramatically while elevating its reputation nationally:
- The University has focused on providing a rich educational experience with emphasis on high-quality teaching and learning.
- Academic programs have been expanded to more than 200 areas of study.
- The University’s annual operating revenue has increased from $28 million in Fall 1994 to an estimated $400 million for Fall 2023.
- Full-time enrollments have more than quadrupled to nearly 11,000 undergraduate and graduate students, and 24 enrollment records have been set during Vaughn’s tenure.
- UT has grown the number of faculty members from 150 to about 900, with similar growth in staff and vendor employees.
- The University has supported the development of student organizations as well as co-curricular learning and student support programs to create a robust learning environment.
- Since 1997, UT’s campus has been transformed by over 70 projects that are either completed or underway, totaling almost $1 billion in value. One of those buildings, the Vaughn Center, was named in the president’s honor.
- UT’s annual economic impact, valued at $85 million in 1995, is now estimated at $1.4 billion, which directly benefits the Tampa Bay area.
“Ron Vaughn started out with a handful of old hand-me-down buildings, and transformed the campus into a dynamic, cutting-edge community that has some of the most innovative learning and living spaces in the country,” said James Eyer, Vice Chair of the UT Board of Trustees. “He truly is a visionary. UT was fortunate to find the right person at the right time to transform the University into a model, metropolitan institution with a high-quality academic experience that is very appealing to prospective students.”
The University is currently building what will be its largest facility – a 460,000-square-foot multipurpose building. When it is completed in August 2024, the facility will include a 607-bed residence hall, a parking garage for about 450 cars, as well as academic and student support spaces.
As Vaughn and UT’s team has refined and continued to execute the University’s master plan, they have taken care to focus on the entire student. As an example, the new Susan and John Sykes Ars Sonora bell tower, next to the Sykes Chapel and Center for Faith and Values, provides a setting for students to reflect, gather and interact.
In addition to spearheading the campus expansion, Vaughn has fostered more community-based financial support than any UT president before him. Among many fundraising achievements, the University raised about $250 million in its first two comprehensive capital campaigns and has now received about $100 million in a third campaign.
Also, UT’s reputation has soared during his tenure. In 2012, Vaughn helped secure UT’s place in The Princeton Review’s annual list of best colleges. Only 15% of four-year colleges in the U.S. share this honor. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks UT in the top tier of regional universities in the South, and for 2022 UT was included as a most innovative college.
The University is also highly scored in rankings by Forbes, the Wall Street Journal and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. UT has also received 18 different accreditations or certifications, further evidence of UT’s progress and high quality.
Prior to coming to UT, Vaughn served as a faculty member and chairman of the marketing department at Bradley University. Prior to working in academe, he owned a multi-office marketing research/consulting company where he worked on several hundred projects for a broad clientele.
Vaughn has a bachelor’s degree in marketing and an MBA from Indiana State University, and a doctorate in marketing from the University of Georgia.
Over the years, Vaughn has received over 40 awards and has been inducted into the Tampa Bay Business Hall of Fame. A few recent awards include: The Liberty Bell Award by the Hillsborough County Bar Association for outstanding service by a non-lawyer, Patrons of Culture and the Arts Impact Award (for both Renée and Ron Vaughn), and Outstanding Citizen of the Year Award by the Tampa Metro Civitan organization.
The University of Tampa is a private, comprehensive university located on 110 acres on the riverfront in downtown Tampa. Known for academic excellence, personal attention and real-world experience in its undergraduate and graduate programs, the University has about 200 programs of study and serves approximately 11,000 students from all 50 states and most of the world’s countries.