TAMPA BAY - The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Judy Genshaft as the 52nd Lightning Community Hero this season during the first period of Game 7 versus the Washington Capitals. Genshaft, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to the new USF Health Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute facility, currently under construction in downtown Tampa.
Since Genshaft became president of the University of South Florida System in 2000, USF has become one of the leading research universities in the country and a catalyst for economic development in the Tampa Bay region. Under her leadership, USF's research enterprise has grown significantly, now positioned as one of the National Science Foundation's top 30 public universities. USF also ranks fifth in the nation among public universities and 11th worldwide for U.S. patents granted.
As a result of a commitment to student success, under Genshaft's leadership USF has nearly doubled its six-year graduation rate to 70 percent. In addition, the university has closed the graduation rate gap by race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status, an extremely rare achievement in higher education. More than 13,000 students earn degrees each year from the USF System.
In June, USF expects to be designated as a Preeminent State Research University. Only two other institutions in Florida have earned that prestigious status, and both are more than 100 years older than USF.
Beyond her role at the university, Genshaft is a very active leader in the community. She has served as chair of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, the Tampa Bay Partnership and the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce Committee of 100. Later this year, she will become chair of the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation. She is also a founding member of the USF Women in Leadership and Philanthropy program, helping young women develop into leaders of tomorrow.
Judy Genshaft becomes the 323rd Lightning Community Heroes since Jeff and Penny Vinik introduced the Lightning Community Hero program in 2011-12 with a $10 million, five-season commitment to the Tampa Bay community. Through this evening's game, in total, the Lightning Foundation has granted $16.25 million to more than 400 different nonprofits in the Greater Tampa Bay area. During the summer of 2016, the Viniks announced that the community hero program will give away another $10 million over the next five seasons.