Dr. Steven Currall
University of South Florida
Steven C. Currall is the seventh president of the University of South Florida (USF). He brings three decades of leadership and academic expertise from top research universities, both public and private, in the U.S. and abroad. His longest career terms were at Rice University and the University of California, Davis. He is passionate about building institutions of higher education to help students, faculty, staff and communities flourish.
During the past decade, USF is the fastest-rising university in the United States on U.S. News & World Report rankings. USF’s long-standing commitment to research, coupled with an emphasis on its societal application and economic impact, has led to USF being ranked in 2019 as 16th worldwide, 8th in the nation and 1st in Florida among public universities for granted U.S. patents according to the Intellectual Property Owner Association.
In 2020, USF’s Institute of Applied Engineering secured an $85 million, five-year contract with U.S. Special Operations Command. The institute will assist the federal government in such fields as autonomous systems, human performance, transportation, cybersecurity, data analytics and sensor technologies.
Compared to other public universities, USF also placed first in the state of Florida in a series of 10 student success-based metrics established by the Florida Board of Governors. The metrics focus on affordable access, graduating students at a high rate, with minimal debt, and preparing them for high-skilled, high-paying jobs in high-demand fields.
In 2020, USF made its debut in the top five nationally among all private and public “Golden Age Universities,” according to U.K.-based Times Higher Education. The university is now ranked 4th, up from 7th in 2019.
During the 2019-2020 year, President Currall led successful consolidation of USF’s three campuses, raised nearly $120 million in philanthropy, and led through the complexities resulting from the COVID-19 global public health crisis.
One of Dr. Currall’s accomplishments at USF was to begin a strategic renewal process by developing a shared set of principles. The resulting Principles of Community reinforce diversity with inclusion, freedom with personal responsibility, and transparency with accountability.
Dr. Currall’s scholarly research focuses on organizational psychology topics such as innovation, trust, emerging technologies, negotiation and corporate governance. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts (United Kingdom), and a member of the Council on Competitiveness, a group of university presidents and business leaders that bolsters America’s investments in talent, technology, innovation and infrastructure.
Dr. Currall was lead author of a book on university-business-government collaboration entitled, Organized Innovation: A Blueprint for Renewing America's Prosperity (Oxford University Press), the culmination of a 10-year research project on interdisciplinary research involving science, engineering and medicine.
Prior to his role at USF, Dr. Currall was provost and vice president for academic affairs at Southern Methodist University where he oversaw all academic colleges/schools and led strategic planning efforts to enhance SMU’s academic quality and stature. He co-founded the George W. Bush Presidential Center’s Bush Institute-SMU Economic Growth Initiative. In Texas, he served on the University Advisory Committee, Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, a $3 billion statewide initiative to fund cancer research and prevention programs.
At the University of California, Davis, Dr. Currall served as senior advisor to the chancellor for strategic projects and initiatives, which included co-chairing a campus-wide strategic visioning exercise to position UC Davis for the 21st century. Dr. Currall co-chaired a committee charged with growing research expenditures to $1 billion. He also served as Dean of the Graduate School of Management.
During his time in California, Dr. Currall was vice chair of the board of directors and member of the executive committee for the 10-campus University of California Global Health Institute. He also was a member of the Board of Directors of the California Life Sciences Association.
At University College London, Dr. Currall was the founding chair of the Department of Management Science and Innovation in the Faculty of Engineering Sciences, where he was also a vice dean. During the same time period, he was a visiting professor of organizational behavior and entrepreneurship at the London Business School.
From 1993 to 2005, Dr. Currall served in a variety of faculty roles at Rice University, including the William and Stephanie Sick Professorship of Entrepreneurship, a $2.5 million endowed professorship in the George R. Brown School of Engineering. He was also a tenured associate professor in the Jones Graduate School of Management.
At Rice, he founded the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship, which assisted in the launch of more than 160 new technology start-up companies. Those firms raised in excess of $300 million in equity capital. Dr. Currall received Stanford University’s Price Foundation Innovative Entrepreneurship Educator Award, Grand Velocity Award for Academic Entrepreneurship (Kelley School of Business, Indiana University), and Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award® (Southeast Texas region).
During 2003, Dr. Currall was a visiting scholar in the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.
Additional service on boards and advisory groups include H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute, Florida Council of 100, Tampa Bay Partnership, Honorary Commander, 60th Air Mobility Wing, Travis Air Force Base (Fairfield, CA), San Francisco Bay Area Council, Sacramento Area Regional Technology Alliance, BioHouston, and the Houston Technology Center. He was also a member of the Nanotechnology Technical Advisory Group, which provided input to the U.S. President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.
A native of Kansas City, Mo., Dr. Currall earned a Ph.D. in organizational behavior from Cornell University, a master’s degree in social psychology from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a bachelor’s degree in psychology (cum laude) from Baylor University.
Dr. Currall is married to Cheyenne Currall, Ph.D.