The University of South Florida's campuses in St. Petersburg and Sarasota are pushing back against the perception they occupy a second tier in the USF system, with the schools beefing up science programs and backing what they say would be a more accurate way of determining graduation rates.
There's a lot at stake, with university overseers such as the Legislature and the state university system Board of Governors focusing on performance metrics to determine how much money universities receive.
USF St. Petersburg and USF Sarasota-Manatee are much younger than the flagship campus in Tampa. They are physically smaller, have far fewer students and much lower budgets. But officials at all three campuses say they're fulfilling significant roles in the USF system.