By Margarita Abramova
University of South Florida President Judy Genshaft and more than a dozen of her top administrators toured Tampa International Airport on Jan. 14 after a briefing on the airport's 2012 accomplishments and plans for the future.
"We've always said this airport is the best in the world," Dr. Genshaft said. "The kind of vision that Joe Lopano and his team have is great. It's amazing. I am very impressed. There are so many intricacies involved in running an airport. I'm really proud of Tampa International Airport."
Airport CEO Joe Lopano said the visit with USF, one of the region's most significant economic engines, is the latest example of collaboration.
"Last year when we hosted airlines from around the world for the Network USA route-planning conference, we scheduled an event at the USF Health CAMLS center, where USF uses the latest technology for surgical training," he said. "I am sure we will see more collaboration."
TPA Vice President of Marketing Chris Minner reviewed the airport's air service development efforts for the USF group, sharing the airport's data analysis and target markets, which include Panama, Colombia, Brazil, Germany, Mexico and the Caribbean. CEO Joe Lopano presented the airport's master plan concepts.
"This is an airport that has a vision and a plan for the future and that invests very strategically," said Moez Limayen, dean of the USF College of Business. "I'm also impressed that they are converting data to knowledge for their decision-making."
USF has more than 2,100 international students and 200 research scholars from 125 countries. The university has multiple international institutes, including the Center for India Studies, the Institute for the Study of Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Patel School of Global Sustainability.
"I'm glad to see the airport making connections internationally," said Karen Holbrook, USF senior vice president for global affairs and international research. "I travel quite a bit internationally and have to connect through other airports. The opportunity is huge here."
In addition to a tour of the airport campus that included the airfield, the USF team visited the Airside F construction site, where Dr. Genshaft and USF Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Doug Woolard posed for a picture with a construction worker wearing a hard hat emblazoned with the USF Bulls logo.
Woolard travels often through the airport with the USF sports teams. All of these teams, except the football team, take commercial flights from Tampa International Airport when heading out to away games.
"The ease of getting in and out of this airport, the way you get on the tram and get to different terminals has been a real advantage for us in traveling," Woolard said. "We travel so often that you want to make sure your travel can be as easy and convenient as possible."