20 Questions with Rhea Law
President of the University of South Florida
Rhea Law, the eighth president in University of South Florida history, is a fifth-generation Floridian who is passionate about the success of the state. Actively involved in corporate, public policy, civic and charitable work, Law holds top leadership positions with many Florida-based organizations. She received gubernatorial appointments to serve on the inaugural board of trustees for the USF as well as the board of the Florida Council of 100, the public policy liaison with Florida’s governor, cabinet, legislative leadership and Supreme Court.
Currently, Law serves on the Board of Directors of Tampa Electric Company, which supplies electricity to the Tampa area and Peoples Gas, which provides gas throughout Florida. She also serves on the executive committee of the Tampa Bay Economic Development Council, the Tampa Bay Chamber and on the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center board of directors and national board of advisers. As a member of the USF President’s Council Society, she is among honored donors who have made a lifetime commitment of $100,000, or more, or a legacy gift to USF.
She is also the former chief executive officer, and chair of the board, of Fowler White Boggs, a Florida law firm.
1. College alma mater?
The University of South Florida – Go Bulls!!
2. Last show you binge-watched?
I’ve watched the entire, six-season, series of Billions, an excellent Showtime drama set in the high-finance world. It just draws you right in.
3. Favorite place for a business meeting?
I love bringing people to my office. It’s a place where we can showcase the university and talk about the great things USF is doing.
4. iPhone or Android?
iPhone. I’m all Apple.
5. What time do you wake up on workdays?
Usually, 5 a.m., though sometimes earlier. I always like getting an early start on the day.
6. What part of your morning routine can you not miss?
My husband and I started, at the beginning of the pandemic, reading the Bible from front to back. Every morning, we have a cup of coffee and read a couple of chapters.
7. What movie terrified you as a child?
A Clockwork Orange. As a matter of fact, I didn’t stay through the whole movie—it’s the only time I’ve walked out of a movie.
8. Proudest moment?
Being selected as the eighth president of USF was one of those incredibly proud moments. And, of course, getting married to my husband, Wayne Williams, is one of them, too.
9. Dream dinner companion?
Wayne Williams—I love spending time with my best friend!
10. Biggest business failure? In thinking about projects that were permitted during my legal land-use career, there were times that we did not receive approvals initially, however, we ultimately got those approvals.
11. Best concert you’ve ever seen, live?
I really wasn’t big into concerts earlier in my life, but I’ve been fortunate to see quite a few in the past 30-plus years, since being together with Wayne.
12. What is your cellphone wallpaper image?
It’s a picture of the ocean at sunset outside of the Breakers in Palm Beach.
13. Most famous person you’ve ever met?
George W. Bush, while he was president. Our son, Gregory, was a Secret Service agent on his detail.
14. What is your go-to drink order?
The drink I like the very best is Champagne, for special occasions.
15. How do you manage the volume of emails you receive? I work on it constantly. I try to do it in tranches of time, so you’re not constantly looking at your phone while you need to be focusing on other things.
16. Last thing you ordered from Amazon?
A birthday present for Gregory’s son.
17. Emojis in the workplace, yay or nay?
18. Charity you support?
There are many charities within the Tampa Bay area that are very important to the community and with which USF is a partner. So, I try to be supportive across the board.
19. Favorite childhood memory?
We would go out on the boat every weekend. I really liked being on the water. Sometimes, we would motor over to Egmont Key in the Bay or go up the various rivers in the area. Other times, we’d be at the lake and go waterskiing. I was an avid skier. In fact, I even taught waterskiing at a summer camp. I just loved activities involving the water.
20. Best advice ever received?
Don’t ever underestimate yourself. Don’t assume you can’t. I’ve always remembered something one of the generals I met used to say: “If you think you can, or if you think you can’t, you’re right!”