Timeline

People, events, dates, photos, videos, media coverage—all of these things are important reminders of USFSM’s impact in its first 40 years.In order to properly recognize all the important parts of our history, we need your help. Please take a moment to share any memories or pieces of history by uploading media and submitting information below. We will use this throughout the year as part of our 40th anniversary celebration.You are an important part of USF Sarasota-Manatee, so share as much as possible!

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There has always been one constant factor to USFSM’s success: the people. Our students, faculty, staff, alumni, administration and supporters are second to none. Without your support, we would not be where we are today. Throughout our 40th anniversary celebration, we would like to recognize 40 of the countless individuals and organizations that have greatly influenced and impacted our campus. We encourage you to learn a little about each and continually check back for new stories.Although we could not begin to spotlight every individual and organization, we hope this will provide a glimpse into the support that has strengthened USFSM over the years and will continue to impact us for years to come.

Dr. Robert Barylski
CEO 1979 to 1989 

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Dr. David Schenck
Dean 1990 to 1998 

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Dr. Michael Bassis
Dean 1999 to 2001 

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Dr. Laurey Stryker
CEO 2000 to 2007 

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Dr. Arthur M. Guilford
Regional Chancellor 2007 to 2014 

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Dr. Sandra Stone
Regional Chancellor 2014-2017
 

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USF System a model for success
USFSM’s early days shaped by New College collaboration
Efforts by legislators, including local alum, all the difference in funding initiative
MBA program finds a home at USFSM
Separate accreditation helps to define campus’ future
Center for PAInT paves way for students, future teachers
Accreditations validate USFSM’s education, business colleges
Brunch on the Bay introduces USFSM to Sarasota and Manatee communities
USFSM flourishes with removal of enrollment restrictions
Dr. Genshaft: USFSM deeply engaged with community
USFSM listens to community, establishes four-year institution
Annual ‘showcase’ spurs student-led research
Clyde G. Nixon Scholarship offers overseas study
Global Engagement Office connects students to cultures abroad
Amanda Evora
Angie Brewer
Christi Womack Villalobos
Charles Baumann
Roger Frazee

USF System a model for success

USF Sarasota-Manatee is celebrating 40 years of service to the community, but there’s another milestone that helps to set the campus apart. Ten years ago, the University of South Florida officially became a system with three distinct institutions: one in Tampa, one in St. Petersburg and one at the border of Sarasota and Manatee counties.

This structure, a one-of-a-kind in the state of Florida, allows the USF System to make a global impact while serving the needs of the communities each campus calls home.

In addition to being a strong unified voice for higher education, the USF System seeks to find and capitalize on synergies and economies of scale among its institutions to the benefit of students, faculty, staff, alumni and its host communities.

“Each campus of the USF System brings unique strengths that give us a competitive advantage,” USF System President Judy Genshaft said. “We are able to serve the needs of a broad range of students, faculty and researchers while remaining stronger as one, with a united brand and mission.”

At the heart of the USF System is a vibrant, diverse and engaged student body. With more than 240 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialty and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine, the USF System offers a dynamic learning environment that inspires innovation and creativity and focuses on student success.

As USF Sarasota-Manatee celebrates its 40th year as a campus, similar celebrations are occurring at USF St. Petersburg (celebrating 50 years) and at USF in Tampa (celebrating 60 years). This collective success truly showcases the power and reach of the united USF System.

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USFSM’s early days shaped by New College collaboration

USF’s decision to bring New College of Florida into the university system in the mid-1970s helped introduce USF to Sarasota and Manatee counties, but USF started eying the area years earlier. It sent teachers to Sarasota and Fort Myers in the early ’70s, and for a while Fort Myers seemed to be the more promising of the two locations. Fort Myers officials proposed that USF use part of a building, the former Glen Institute, for classrooms. The university agreed and eventually brought portable trailers to expand the campus.

Meanwhile in Sarasota, professors borrowed space at local high schools for night classes in education, business and liberal arts.

For years, USF’s focus seemed fixed on Fort Myers, which had the facilities to grow. But then something unexpected happened to challenge that dynamic. New College of Florida approached the state, disclosing it needed help amidst financial difficulties. A deal was struck on July 1, 1975 to give control of the college to USF. It agreed both to work within the USF System and provide space for USF’s fledgling regional campus.

From that point on, “USF Sarasota,” as it was called, essentially became a campus within a campus. While New College students attended classes during the day, USF Sarasota held classes at night. The fit wasn’t always easy. USF and New College frequently struggled to reconcile differences in hierarchy and operations.

“We had to bring the private school into the public sector,” former dean of USF’s regional campuses, Lester Tuttle, recalled in a 1985 interview. “It was an interesting job because we had to insulate it from the bureaucracy of the state university system.”

New College differed from most colleges and universities. For one, it didn’t assign grades, so USF was forced to make an accommodation for hundreds of New College students to advance and graduate, even though thousands of other USF students followed the traditional grading system. The two also adhered to vastly different hiring rules, which created friction from the outset. Each New College position needed to be evaluated to determine whether it matched job categories spelled out by the university system.

“Many of them had been there for 10 years, but you had to audit and create a career service category that was analogous to what they had been doing, and then advertise those positions,” Tuttle said. “How do you convert faculty who’ve got tenure in a private institution but who don’t have tenure in a public institution?”

Even after addressing the grading and employment issues, one key difference remained. Namely, the two institutions pursued vastly differently missions. New College, born out of the 1960s, was the state’s honors college. USF Sarasota focused on working adults looking to advance their careers and students transferring from community colleges. Plus, it was eager to expand.

“USF was an open program and it was concerned about helping kids get jobs,” former Dean and Warden Michael Bassis (1997-2001) recalled.

After 26 years, USF and New College agreed to separate. Five years after that, USF Sarasota-Manatee moved to its own campus – forever ending the cycle of night classes and borrowed classrooms.

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Efforts by legislators, including local alum, all the difference in funding initiative

When USF Sarasota-Manatee tried to land $23 million in state funds for a new campus it turned to Ron Reagan, an insurance agent and member of the USFSM Class of ’77.
Fortunately for USFSM, Reagan also happened to be a District 67 state representative.

With help from a raft of lawmakers, including Sens. Mike Bennett and Lisa Carlton and Reps. Nancy Detert and Bill Galvano, the Manatee County Republican helped secure necessary funding in the 2004 and 2005 budget cycles to enable the 108,000-square-foot campus building to open on time in fall 2006 at the former Crosley Estate, just north of New College.

Securing the cash for his alma mater wasn’t a pet project. Before he was elected, the state purchased 28 acres of the 45-acre estate for $2 million then spent another $1.5 million on designs and engineering for a proposed campus.

Plus, Reagan, whose district at the time included parts of Manatee, Sarasota and Hillsborough counties, could see the potential a university campus might offer the region and local economy. Most important, he hoped it would address the “brain drain” of local youth leaving for college and jobs outside the area.

“It was good fight for us to get into,” he said, recalling hours of conversations and meetings to win over lawmakers. “It was a concerted effort by a lot of people, including other legislators and a lot of alumni.”

With prodding from Reagan and the Alumni Association, local businesses, chambers of commerce and locally elected officials banded together to join that fight. Additional backing came from USF and USFSM alumni in the form of hundreds of letters and phone calls to state lawmakers.

The collective intent for all of these supporters was to convince House and Senate leaders to add the funding requests to the state’s proposed spending plans. “I must have talked to at least 50 people personally,” Reagan said.

Getting the requests past the House and Senate budget committees was the biggest hurdle, but then supporters had to hold their breath while then-Gov. Jeb Bush considered whether to support the allocations or exercise his line-item veto. Although some last-minute debate emerged whether to support them, he backed the allocations each time.
“We were worried right to the bitter end, because anything could have happened,” Reagan said. “Fortunately, it went our way.”

Looking back, he considers the funding battles a “definite” highlight of his eight years as a state legislator. Cajoling fellow lawmakers wasn’t difficult once they understood what it meant to the region for USFSM to have its own campus, apart from New College of Florida, he said. The two institutions were separated by a legislative act in 2001, but USFSM was forced to remain at New College until it could build its own campus.

“We were very fortunate,” he said. “We had a good team and worked hard. This was definitely a collective effort by a lot of people.”

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MBA program finds a home at USFSM

Finding a home wasn’t easy for USF Sarasota-Manatee’s fledgling Master of Business Administration (MBA) program.

Years before USFSM moved to its new campus in 2006, the College of Business was working to launch an MBA program in response to local business leaders. USF’s College of Business in Tampa, which needed to give consent before allowing the program, supported the effort but only on condition that at least 25 students enroll.

If that happened, it would provide instructors to augment the USFSM professors already involved. Encouraged by this, local faculty rallied to get the word out.

“We contacted the newspapers, we spoke to businesses, the chamber, different groups, anyone we could think of,” recalled Dr. Peter French, then-associate vice president of academic affairs.

By 2002, enough students had registered, prompting the Tampa campus’ support. One last piece of the puzzle remained. The 31-month program lacked classrooms, and as it turned out, this would prove a sticking point over the next year.

Like USFSM, the program first turned to New College of Florida, where USFSM was making its home until its new campus was finished and ready to open at the old Crosley Estate. However, the response by students as they walked into the cramped classrooms was tepid to say the least, Dr. French recalled.

He and others resolved to find nicer quarters and landed at Arthur Andersen’s vast regional offices in Sarasota. But the storied accounting company, wracked by the Enron scandal, was foundering and within months, USFSM’s small MBA program was again looking for a new home.

Enter Charles Baumann, USF alumnus, local accountant and member of the board of directors for FCCI Insurance Group in Lakewood Ranch. With Baumann’s help, the college struck a deal to allow some FCCI placements in the MBA program in return for space at FCCI’s sparkling new offices.

“It was a beautiful building,” Dr. French recalled, adding that FCCI served as the program’s home for the nearly two years until USFSM’s campus opened. “We were always very grateful for FCCI’s help. They really stepped up for us.”

Like USFSM, the MBA program moved through several incarnations. The program still runs on Saturdays to accommodate working students, but now it’s spread over 20 months instead of 31.

Additionally, students can sign up under the General MBA track or an MBA with an accounting track to prepare them for the Florida CPA exam. Part-time students are welcome, too. Classes begin in the fall and spring. All classes are taught by resident faculty with doctoral degrees.

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Separate accreditation helps to define campus’ future

No balloons or Champagne were on hand, but the occasion was momentous nonetheless.

On June 27, 2011, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) awarded separate accreditation to USF Sarasota-Manatee.

Lacking the bang of a groundbreaking or ribbon-cutting, receiving separate accreditation carried the same weight nonetheless. Minus the hoopla, it meant the campus was free to chart its own path while remaining a part of the USF System. Previously, USFSM was accredited through its relationship with USF Tampa.

“This now means that we will be able to design new programs, grant our own degrees, make faculty decisions, award diplomas, and have all advising, admissions and financial decisions here instead of in Tampa,” then-Regional Chancellor Dr. Arthur Guilford said at the time. “It is a lengthy, but necessary and worthwhile process and I am so proud of our faculty, students, staff, community and USF System President Dr. (Judy) Genshaft for their incredible support.”

The following year, the campus admitted sophomores and in 2013 it enrolled freshmen to transform it into a four-year institution. This wouldn’t have happened without the separate accreditation, which took more than a year to achieve.

Institutions seeking accreditation undergo an intensive and lengthy self-review process in which they assess how well they’re meeting their educational missions, goals and expected outcomes, and making improvements as needed. A committee of experts from across the country then visits and evaluates the institution.

SACS is a private, non-governmental organization that accredits educational institutions in the southern United States (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia).

The Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS-COC) is recognized by the United States Department of Education.

Achieving separate accreditation was a testament to the hard work by USFSM faculty and staff, Dr. Guilford said. It also meant that USFSM had grown up.

USF System President Dr. Judy Genshaft agreed:

“This is a terrific statement of quality for USF Sarasota-Manatee and of maturity for the whole USF System,” she said at the time. “Congratulations to the entire team!”

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Center for PAInT paves way for students, future teachers

Dr. Elizabeth “Liz” Larkin, professor emeritus, remembers thinking the idea was aptly suited for arts-centric Sarasota and Manatee counties: integrating the arts into classroom instruction at public schools.

“What better place to do this than here?” she said.

The intent behind that notion was to improve children’s retention and understanding of academic content through the arts.

Advanced in 2011 by Dr. Terry Osborn, then dean of the College of Education, this concept grew to become the Center for Partnerships for Arts-Integrated Teaching (Center for PAInT), which now works hand-in-hand with local school districts to integrate the arts into teaching and learning.

Dr. Larkin, who oversaw the center in its first two years, recalled how the local school districts were eager to help. Professors in USFSM’s College of Education were equally supportive: “We had 100 percent buy-in from faculty.”

After a year of meetings, workshops and other professional development, the center launched in 2012 serving USFSM’s College of Education. The program would benefit not only the district’s students but also College of Education teaching candidates who interned at the local districts.

Crossing subject specialties and grade levels, the program garnered broad support, striking a hopeful chord at a time when schools nationwide were shrinking or eliminating arts programs altogether to save tax dollars.

Among those bucking the trend was Louise Harrison, sister of the Beatles’ George Harrison. Ms. Harrison partnered with the center at the outset, visiting the campus for meetings and serving as an emissary off campus to promote the center and call for continued arts funding. Harrison was a vocal advocate of school-based arts programs nationally.
Other artists opened their doors as well. The Sarasota Opera with Maestro Victor DeRenzi welcomed students and faculty to rehearsals, as did the Venice Symphony.

Eventually, grant monies followed. Notably, the Manatee Community Foundation’s Leslie and Margaret Weller Fund awarded $42,000 in 2013 to support an effort involving the center and the Manatee district.

The following year, the center reached its biggest milestone yet: The state awarded the center $100,000 for the 2014-15 academic year.

“That was yet another show of support, this time from Tallahassee,” Dr. Osborn said of the allocation. “This was important because this was a public recognition of the great work the center was doing, which resulted in funding from the Legislature in fiscal 2014.”

Later that year, the federal Department of Education awarded Sarasota County $1.2 million to implement “Elevate with Arts Integration,” a four-year initiative aimed at strengthening student performance in reading, writing, math and science at four Title I elementary schools in Sarasota. USFSM was tapped to evaluate the program.

Dr. Larkin, who retired in 2013, calls her involvement in launching the Center for PAInT the pinnacle of her career: “I absolutely loved it. It kind of was like a crowning achievement to get that off the ground.”

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Accreditations validate USFSM’s education, business colleges

Not long after USF Sarasota-Manatee secured separate accreditation in 2011, USFSM’s colleges of business and education received separate, specialized accreditations as well.

USFSM’s accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges helped establish an identity as the campus looked to develop academic programs more attuned to the Sarasota-Manatee community.

In a similar spirit, USFSM’s College of Business (COB) pursued accreditation apart from other regional business programs. As it turned out, the college’s “aim-for-the-stars” approach hit its target.

In March 2014, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), the hallmark of excellence in business education, awarded separate accreditation to USFSM’s College of Business. AACSB accreditation is earned by less than 10 percent of the world’s business programs.

“In order to achieve AACSB accreditation, our college has to meet exacting standards and strive for continuous improvement. All of this is an effort to provide our students with the highest quality education possible,” said College of Business Dean Dr. James Curran.

The COB accreditation followed an exhaustive review process that at one point saw business professionals from three universities visiting USFSM to pore over its business programs.

Similarly, the College of Education underwent a thorough vetting as it pursued accreditation through the National Council for Accreditation for Teacher Education (NCATE), the nation’s foremost accrediting organization for teacher education.

That review included site visits and a thorough evaluation of all College of Education programs, faculty and educator candidates. During the six-year process, NCATE merged with another accrediting agency to form the Council for Accreditation for Educator Preparation (CAEP).

This newly combined organization conferred specialized accreditation on the College of Education last May. Campus leaders and faculty were thrilled by the announcement.

“This means that the College of Education has been scrutinized by peers in the field of education and that our College of Education has essentially been deemed world class,” said Dr. Terry Osborn, regional vice chancellor for academic and student affairs.

Specialized accreditation signifies that those programs are on par with top collegiate programs throughout the world, USFSM Regional Chancellor Dr. Sandra Stone said. Practically speaking, the college received a “seal of approval” to signify its place among the elite schools.

In addition to the CAEP and AACSB’s accreditation, the College of Business was permitted through the AACSB to create a local chapter of Beta Gamma Sigma (BGS), the honor society for elite business students. Thirteen USFSM students were inducted into BGS during a ceremony last spring.

According to Dr. Curran, BGS membership can also serve as a career-booster.

“Only the top 10 percent of undergrads and the top 20 percent of graduate students are invited to join Beta Gamma Sigma,” he said. “So membership in Beta Gamma Sigma demonstrates that our students have excelled in their business studies. Some employers will recognize membership in Beta Gamma Sigma as evidence of a potentially valuable employee.”

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Brunch on the Bay introduces USFSM to Sarasota and Manatee communities

Brunch on the Bay, USF Sarasota-Manatee’s premier fundraising event, began 22 years ago as a way to spotlight not just scholarship needs but USFSM itself.

Longtime booster and USF alumnus Charles Baumann said little was known about the regional campus, at the time housed at New College of Florida, and nearby communities were mostly unaware it even existed. Reporters seeking experts for news stories routinely bypassed the campus for New College professors.

Baumann and others sought to change that by creating an event that would elevate the campus’ profile while generating scholarship donations.

“We wanted to bring people to the campus and introduce people to USFSM,” Baumann recalled.

The event has done that, attracting 1,000 attendees annually, while also becoming the campus’ most important vehicle for scholarships. Since its start, Brunch has generated more than $1.3 million for the “Brunch on the Bay Scholarship Endowment,” which has contributed more than $1 million in scholarships to more than 1,400 students.

Early on, though, organizers didn’t know what to expect from the event.

“That first year we would have been happy if we sold just 200 tickets, but we sold more than 600 and it’s been growing ever since,” said USF alumna Dr. Anila Jain, who served on the first Brunch on the Bay organizing committee and co-chaired the most recent Brunch with Tracy O’Neill.

A success at the outset, the event reached new heights under USFSM CEO Dr. Laurey Stryker, who advocated an expansion of sponsorship donations. The donation totals rose by $120,000 under her tenure, 2000-2007, and have been climbing since.

This most recent Brunch, Nov. 1, 2015, proved to be the most successful ever. With close to 1,000 guests plus 20 of the region’s finest restaurants and caterers, the event raised more than $370,000 for USFSM scholarships.

“Brunch started as a way to gain recognition for our campus, but now it is so much more than that,” said Dennis Stover, regional vice chancellor for University Advancement. “At USFSM it is one of the many ways we support our students through scholarships. Nearly 84 percent of our students benefit from financial aid while they attend our university.

“Brunch is a powerful tool that allows us to raise funds for student scholarship. It is truly an amazing event to be a part of.”

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USFSM flourishes with removal of enrollment restrictions

June 2015 was an historic month for USF Sarasota-Manatee, starting with approval of the campus’ long-range strategic plan and ending with the Board of Governors’ consent to allow USFSM to exceed 25 percent of its full-time equivalent credit hours for freshmen and sophomores.

Practically speaking, the board’s action allowed USFSM to expand its lower-level course offerings and lifted the freshmen and sophomore enrollment caps in place since 2012.

“By allowing our campus to increase the number of freshman and sophomore students, we are now able to serve a higher percentage of local, traditional college students,” Dr. Sandra Stone, USF Sarasota-Manatee regional chancellor, said. “This is an exciting step forward for USF Sarasota-Manatee.”

She called the approval “the next major milestone in our 40-year history in this community.”

The enrollment increases won’t occur immediately. They’ll likely increase starting fall 2016 as graduating seniors firm up their college plans from the previous year.

The Board of Governors’ approval comes as USF Sarasota-Manatee is achieving greater milestones and growing faster than expected.

For decades, since the campus’ founding in 1975, USFSM derived accreditation through its affiliation with USF Tampa. That changed in 2011 when, like USF St. Petersburg before it, USFSM earned separate accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Since then, USFSM has gained more attention from local graduating seniors. This continued in 2013 when, with backing from USF’s Board of Trustees, the campus welcomed its first freshman class.
It was anticipated that freshmen and sophomore enrollments wouldn’t constitute more than 25 percent of the total student population until the 2017-18 academic year. With support from the community, the campus crossed that threshold in fall 2015 when total student registrations eclipsed 2,000 students.

USFSM is not focused solely on enrollment growth as it expands. Instead, the campus is aiming for “quality growth” to try to retain the intimate, personal learning environment the campus is known for.

“We are so grateful to the Board of Governors for their approval of USFSM’s proposal to expand lower-level enrollment,” USF System President Dr. Judy Genshaft said. “This expansion reflects the USF System’s continued commitment to providing access to high-quality education to the region we serve.”

USFSM received support for the cap removal from State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota, as well as New College of Florida, the Manatee Chamber of Commerce, the Sarasota Economic Development Council, the North Port Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, the Bradenton Area Economic Development Council and the Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance.

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Dr. Genshaft: USFSM deeply engaged with community

Congratulations on the 40th Anniversary of USF Sarasota-Manatee! The entire USF System joins in the celebration of this milestone and all the wonderful accomplishments of these past decades.

USF Sarasota-Manatee has matured into a very special institution that is deeply engaged with its local community while contributing greatly to our fast-rising USF System. The past 40 years has created a rich history for USF Sarasota-Manatee which both define this institution and give it a great foundation for many achievements to come.

USF Sarasota-Manatee has an unmatched vitality and presence in the community. From the partnership with Mote Marine Laboratory and the creation of the new College of Science and Mathematics, to the globally renown growth of the College of Hospitality & Tourism Leadership, USF Sarasota-Manatee is a higher education institution working in collaboration with the community to meet its needs. Those close bonds also are evident in great traditions such as the Brunch on the Bay and in the community’s generous support for undergraduate scholarships that are so important for our students.

The institutions of the USF System have worked collaboratively in creating an impactful presence in the Tampa Bay region. Together, we have forged a culture rooted in shared mission, vision and values needed to provide world-class teaching, research and innovation. Our deep and abiding commitment to student success and community service is at the core of all we do.

Thank you all for what you do and have done to make USF Sarasota-Manatee an incredible success!

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USFSM listens to community, establishes four-year institution

It didn’t take long for Dr. Arthur Guilford to hear the talk about expanding USF Sarasota-Manatee from a two-year “upper-division” school to a comprehensive four-year institution.

“People started talking about it shortly after I came down here,” Dr. Guilford, regional chancellor from 2007 to 2014, said. “In the end, it seemed the only way to build the university the way we wanted to, was to become a four-year institution.”

Seeking to explore the idea further, campus leaders surveyed students, parents, faculty and community leaders about whether to expand to four years. A consensus emerged, but the reasons varied. While many students said they wanted to attend class close to home, others talked about seeking “a university experience” that only a four-year institution can provide.

Community and business leaders, meanwhile, had an entirely different goal in mind. They said they wanted to stop the “brain drain” of high school graduates to colleges outside the area. “They would get jobs and get married and never come back,” Guilford said.

With a consensus in place, the campus set out to ramp up its accreditation and put together a plan for new courses and degree programs. It also needed approval from USF’s Board of Trustees and the state’s Board of Governors. The process took two years.

After hiring faculty and expanding the curriculum, the first freshman class entered USFSM in August 2013.

Of the 392 students who applied to join the Class of 2017, 135 were accepted (33 percent) and 87 were formally enrolled. They posted an average GPA of 3.59, average SAT (reading and math) score of 1093 and composite ACT score of 24.

Most came from the Tampa Bay area – Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties in particular – but some traveled from out of state, like Hannah Veitkus, who grew up in Kansas City and graduated high school in England.

She said she was drawn to USFSM’s small class sizes. Others, like Alex Benishek, who graduated from Palmetto High School in Manatee County, cited USFSM’s mix of programs, proximity to home and affordability.

Now a junior and student body president, Benishek said he applied accidentally, thinking he was applying online for USF St. Petersburg. He later viewed the mistake, “by far the best thing that ever could have happened.”

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Annual ‘showcase’ spurs student-led research

Having a low student-to-faculty ratio is beneficial in many ways, but one of the most valued and unique is the opportunity it affords students for individually conducted research alongside noted professors.

This research-driven focus is integrated across each of USF Sarasota-Manatee’s colleges and many academic disciplines. As students advance in their studies, they may be invited to work on specific research projects alongside their professors. As a result, many USFSM undergraduates undergo learning experiences often reserved exclusively for the graduate level.

Taking this idea a step further, USFSM celebrates and encourages undergraduate achievement through an annual campus-wide symposium in which students formally present their research to faculty and other students at the Selby Auditorium. Some are asked to elaborate further with PowerPoint presentations. Categorical winners receive the opportunity to travel to national academic conventions, free of cost, to further present their work.

This year, that event — formerly known as the “Research Symposium” — was expanded to become the “Student Showcase for Projects, Research and Innovation.”

Previously consisting of two general categories, the symposium was enlarged in the hope of encouraging more students and professors to step forward with research entries, creating a more robust competition. Research will now be evaluated in discipline-specific categories in liberal arts, social sciences, science and math, education, business and hospitality/tourism leadership.

Dr. Jane Rose, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, said the symposium’s event and prizes are intended both to reward achievement and promote further scholarly development.

“We are giving the students a larger arena in which to have their work evaluated,” Dr. Rose said. “Providing access for our students to share their work with scholars and professionals who will assess it on its own merit prepares them for the real world. And presenting their work alongside others from around the country can be more instructive than the classroom. It’s more high-stakes and truer to life, the kind of scrutiny they will experience once they leave here for work or graduate school.

“I believe that having such a program does more than encourage our students to perform better. It encourages our faculty to design courses and conduct their teaching in a way that better prepares students to become independent-thinking scholars,” she said.

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Clyde G. Nixon Scholarship offers overseas study

USFSM is committed to providing enriching learning experiences and opportunities.

One such opportunity takes form as the Clyde G. Nixon International Business Scholarship, which has funded 14 students’ international travels since 2010. The experiences have ranged from financial accounting trips to Latin America to service learning in Poland, a historical Japanese sojourn and business marketing studies in Belgium, Amsterdam, France, Korea and Spain.

While the journeys vary depending on the student’s major and aspirations, one conclusion remains the same: It’s a life-changing event.

“It was an amazing experience,” Nixon scholar Jennifer Caba said upon returning from Poland, where she took a “Global Leadership through Service” course and worked with the Gliwice Habitat for Humanity. “I enjoyed every second of the trip because I was there to help make a difference at the rehabilitation centers we were working at.”

Before he died in 2007, Clyde G. Nixon, chairman of Sun Hydraulics Corp., was a member of USFSM’s Campus Board and chair of the Community Leadership Council, helping to raise $7.5 million for USFSM’s 2006 move to a new campus.

His innovative approach to global and regional business development was inspired by his frequent trips abroad. That approach and his passion for travel, in turn, inspired friends and family to establish the Nixon scholarship fund in his memory.

His wife, Joan Nixon, loved traveling the globe with her husband and continues to support the fund yearly.

“My husband was a firm believer in international study,” she said. “What it does for students, is broaden their vision. It’s very important, especially in this day and age, to understand other people and experience other cultures.”

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Global Engagement Office connects students to cultures abroad

Forty years ago, USF Sarasota-Manatee started as an upper-division campus serving local students who wanted to finish their college education or take a course or two.

Today, the needs and demands of our student population are greater and constantly evolving. With the addition of sophomores and freshmen in 2012 and 2013, the demand for international learning opportunities also increased. To meet those needs, USFSM developed the Global Engagement Office.

The Global Engagement Office (GEO) coordinates with USF World to provide support to faculty and students interested in studying abroad. It also strives to encourage foreign students to study here at USFSM.

By bringing more foreign students to the campus and encouraging greater participation by faculty and students in study-abroad programs, USFSM aims to become a hub for diverse cultures and ideas.

To promote global culture at USFSM and greater participation in study-abroad programs, the GEO schedules campus-wide programs and info-sessions. It also coordinates an international certificate program and works with deans and faculty on new study-abroad initiatives. All of this helps to create a more rounded, globally minded student body.

“Expanding international education is an important component of our new strategic plan as we need to prepare our students to succeed in a global market,” USFSM Regional Chancellor Dr. Sandra Stone said.

Amela Malkic, recently appointed director of the GEO, said: “Our numbers of enrolled international students and visiting scholars are on the rise as we work closely with all colleges in promoting international education at USFSM.

“I believe that USFSM is an affordable and attractive academic choice because we offer outstanding educational programs, a personalized learning community and a warm Florida welcome to international students,” she said.

In addition to bringing international students to USFSM, the GEO works on diversity initiatives to expand USFSM’s international reach and offer a global perspective to its curricula.

“Our institution is committed to graduating competent students,” Malkic said. “Personally, I am excited and grateful for the opportunity to work with Dr. Stone and the entire USFSM community on expanding international education across our institution and the USF System.

“We intend to collaborate with our colleges, faculty and USF World on a variety of initiatives to promote international opportunities for faculty and students,” she said. “It is exciting to be a part of USFSM as we work to meet our strategic goals and advance student achievement through global academic experiences.”

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Amanda Evora

She was USF Sarasota-Manatee’s most recognizable student for three years as she pursued her business degree.

Even today, after graduating in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, management and marketing, Amanda Evora, the star figure skater who competed in the Olympics, is remembered as a dedicated student who made time for her alma mater.

“She’s always been supportive of the university and has been very open to sharing stories with students and alumni about her success and journey,” said Jay Riley, program director of student alumni engagement. “By stressing the importance of getting an education she’s also been a role model to student athletes.”

Attending classes at night and online, the pairs figure skater for Team USA spent seven years working toward a bachelor’s degree.

USFSM actually was her second school after taking classes at Manatee Community College, now State College of Florida (SCF). While at both institutions, she continued skating but took time off in 2010 to prepare for the Olympics in Vancouver where she and pairs partner Mark Ladwig placed tenth.

“We had not competed at a world championship before the Olympics, so we were proud that we made the top 10,” Evora said, adding that she’s thankful to USFSM for being “very understanding of my schedule and working with me.”

Evora relocated to Bradenton from Houston in 2001 to train at Ellenton. She moved into an apartment with her mother before living with several host families in Ellenton and attending school at JP Igloo, now the Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex. She received an associate’s degree from MCC in 2006 and enrolled at USFSM in 2009.

“Education was very, very important in my family,” she said. “My parents were very strict about getting an education. Even when I was skating I continued my education because I knew it was important to get a degree.”

Also important was to “give back” to her alma mater.

Evora has frequently given inspirational talks, both as a student and an alumna. As an alumna, she was on hand to welcome the first freshman class during its orientation. Earlier, she participated in USF’s Women in Leadership and Philanthropy program as well as a networking forum hosted by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau.

USFSM students have embraced Evora in return. Watch parties and other events popped up on campus during the Olympics, and in 2013 when she appeared on the “Battle of the Blades” reality show on Canadian television, students were glued to their TVs, rooting for her. Evora and her partner, NHL player Scott Thornton, ended up winning the competition. They donated their $100,000 winnings to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.

The five-time U.S. medalist retired from skating in 2012, ending a competitive skating career that spanned more than 20 years. Now 31, Evora coaches Olympic hopefuls at the Ellenton rink while also working at RPM Specialty Products Group in Sarasota.

“I liked that it was close to home and offered everything I wanted in getting a degree,” she said of her time at USFSM. “It was very personable and always felt welcoming. It was easy to have the attention needed from a professor. It was nice that it was close to home, but it was also a good, reputable school.”

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Angie Brewer

No one can say longtime USF Sarasota-Manatee booster Angie Brewer didn’t earn her green and gold stripes 10 years ago when she landed the ’70s rock group Three Dog Night for USFSM’s 30th anniversary party.

The group belted out classic tunes alongside Sarasota Bay, attracting thousands.

But the 1982 USF Sarasota-Manatee alumna is better known for other laudable efforts. In fact, they earned her the nickname, “The Bull Lady.”

Brewer doesn’t mind. The name derives from the many examples of Bulls statuary scattered around USF’s campuses in Tampa and Sarasota-Manatee. Brewer purchased the statues herself or with help from friends. The USFSM one in the courtyard ran about $4,500. Brewer split the cost with Dr. Anila Jain, another notable USF alumna.

President of the Board of Directors for the USF Bulls Club – the system-wide athletics fundraising group – Brewer harbors deep USF roots. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in business management at USFSM in 1982, she earned a master’s degree in business management in 1984 from USF Tampa.

She’s still a vocal advocate for increased scholarships, research grants and funding for sports, but said the statues have their place too.

“They give young people a sense of tradition when they come onto the campus, and when you give people a tradition they can hold onto, they become part of the university,” she said. “I want young people today and in the future to have these kinds of memories from their time at USFSM.”

Brewer started earning her nickname 10 years ago when she and Dr. Jain spotted a Bulls statute at an auction. The two purchased it for $6,000 and had it placed at the alumni center in Tampa.

Former USFSM Regional Chancellor Dr. Arthur Guilford saw the statue and asked if Brewer could find others, which set her on a quest. She discovered they’re cast in bronze in Thailand, then found a local representative to place orders with the manufacturer.

“I got the last three for a deal, $3,200 each,” she said.

So far, Brewer has purchased or co-purchased six statues. She said she loves how they weather, developing a burnished, greenish-gray hue over time.

“They look noble, and they give the campuses a sense of history and place,” she said. “They also give the students a great backdrop for their graduation pictures.”

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Christi Womack Villalobos

Christi Womack Villalobos couldn’t say ‘no’ when the alumni association called. She couldn’t turn down the Brunch on the Bay committee when it wanted help. And when the association organized an all-alumni reunion, she was there working behind the scenes.

The USF Sarasota-Manatee Class of ’92 alumna can’t seem to turn her back on her alma mater, whether it means making phone calls to fellow alums, organizing social events, raising scholarship funds or interviewing scholarship candidates.

“You have to find something you’re passionate about. I’m passionate about USF and USFSM,” she said, adding that the work was made enjoyable by the other USFSM boosters she encountered, including people, who it turned out, became “lifetime friends.”

Womack Villalobos, a local newspaper editor and writer, spent 10 years as a USFSM Alumni Association board member before being asked to join the National Alumni Association’s board of directors in 2008, a position she held for five years.

She’s served on numerous other organizations as well, including the Rotary Club of East Manatee and the Literacy Council of Manatee County, but USF and USFSM hold a special place. Womack Villalobos says the explanation is simple: USFSM was there when she needed help with her educational goals and now she’s “giving back.”

After earning an associate’s degree at then-Manatee Junior College, Womack Villalobos landed a full-time newsroom job, but the desire to return to school for a bachelor’s degree never waned. So she turned to USF Sarasota-Manatee. Working full time and attending classes at night, she earned a bachelor’s of arts degree in English.

“It took five years, which is not optimal for university purposes, but for me it was perfect to come here because if I hadn’t had this campus I probably would not have returned to school because I probably would not have been able to drive to St. Pete or Tampa and work full time,” she said. “That’s what fuels my passion for this campus because I realize how important it is for people like me to be able to continue their education.”

Her efforts on behalf of USFSM’s alumni association earned her a Distinguished Alumni Award in 2004. They also led to a mentorship experience she still cherishes. Womack Villalobos mentored Eden Monier Barreto for two years before the young technical writing student graduated in 2011.

The two met for coffee weekly to chat about life, Barreto’s studies and her workload. She moved to Seattle about a year after graduation, but the two still keep in touch.

“There’s got to be more to someone than just their job and home life,” Womack Villalobos says. “You need to find something you’re passionate about to expand your knowledge about the world around you, and, in your own small way, you can be part of the solution.

“It doesn’t always have to be about donating money. Donating your time can be just as valuable,” she said.

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Charles Baumann

All it took was an invitation from an old college friend to help USF’s alumni association.

That was 30 years ago and Charles Baumann has been saying ‘yes’ ever since – which is fortunate for USF Sarasota-Manatee, the chief beneficiary of Baumann’s talent and philanthropic spirit.

Since then, the now-retired Class of ’71 USF alumnus has helped shape USFSM in numerous ways. Among them, by organizing Brunch on the Bay, serving on the USFSM Community Leadership Council and making generous financial contributions.

“We’re only involved in things we care about,” Baumann said, referring also to his wife, Linda. “If you get involved in something or volunteer for something, volunteer for something you care about.”

Baumann’s involvement dates to the mid-1980s when longtime USF booster Roger Frazee suggested he help his alma mater.

Baumann, who had returned to the area after 13 years at the IRS, was working as an accountant at Sarasota-based Kerkering, Barberio & Co. He agreed to help and soon was introduced to the dean at USF Sarasota-Manatee, Dr. David Schenck.

Dean Schenck asked him to join a council comprised of local business leaders. Back then, the USF regional campus was housed at New College of Florida and was barely known off campus. The council, an advisory board to the dean, wanted to elevate USFSM’s standing and suggested a social event to bring people to campus and raise money for scholarships. The result: Brunch on the Bay.

“We wanted it to be different, not a fundraiser dinner-type thing,” said Baumann, who chaired the first Brunch organizing committee along with numerous other committees since then. “Back then, this was not about raising money but about raising friends.”

The event, now a mainstay on the Sarasota-Manatee social calendar, is just one example of how Baumann answered the call to help. Years later, he and Linda would answer that call again – including in a big way in the mid-2000s.

Then-CEO Dr. Laurey Stryker was overseeing USFSM’s move to a new campus north of New College when she turned to the Baumanns for help outfitting the empty building. The Baumanns responded generously and in a personal way with a $50,000 donation.

“We weren’t born into wealth but we looked into what we could afford and we found we could do it,” he said. “We both believe in giving back to the community.”

Looking back, he said he cherishes those times he and Linda could help, but said he’s prouder of how the campus has responded to the community than any support he may have provided.

“I’m proud of how the university went out into the community to find out what was needed to supply its needs and then responded by teaching our kids and giving our kids an education that is marketable, so they can come out and go back into the community and get a good job,” he said.

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Roger Frazee

Roger Frazee, USF Class of ’71, was in the perfect position to lead USF Sarasota-Manatee’s fundraising effort when it started planning a campus.

With the Legislature’s blessing, USFSM and New College of Florida separated in 2001 and the focus shifted to raising funds – an estimated $28 million in public and private monies – to build a

USFSM campus at the former Powel Crosley Estate north of New College.

Hoping to find alums to work with local lawmakers, then-CEO Dr. Laurey Stryker turned to the Community Leadership Council, an advisory board, and Frazee, a local accountant, financial adviser and longtime Alumni Association board member.

As Dr. Stryker saw it, Frazee had the perfect credentials to win support from alumni, business leaders and politicians. In addition to serving on the Council, he helped start Brunch on the Bay, and his leadership on the Alumni Association helped it to earn the “Outstanding Chapter” distinction three times.

He also earned the Donald A. Gifford Alumni Service Award (2004) and served as president of the USF National Alumni Association, in addition to holding a post on the USF Foundation.

The job she gave him was “Public Advocacy Chair of the CLC.” Or, as Frazee described, he was responsible for cajoling alumni, business leaders, politicians and others to rally behind USFSM. He immediately set out to assemble an able team, including, among others, Dr. Anila Jain, Diana Michel, David Hicks, Christi Womack Villalobos, C. John Clarke and Clyde Nixon.

With help from the local legislative delegation, the team’s efforts paid off. In early 2004, the Legislature introduced a bill to provide $14.7 million – half the money needed to construct the 108,000-square-foot campus building. Additional monies came the following legislative session.

As the bills came up for floor votes, Frazee rallied his team, who in turn called on alumni and community leaders to flood House and Senate offices with letters and emails urging passage of the funding requests.

Plus, he and other team members personally visited district and legislative offices to further urge support. Four times in 2004 and 2005 they gave public testimony to the Department of Community Affairs, which was evaluating USFSM’s request to use the old Crosley Estate for its campus.

The wave of community and alumni support proved overwhelming. Thanks to fundraising help from Clarke, former president of Schroeder-Manatee Ranch Inc., $3 million was raised in private donations, plus the same amount in matching state grants.

Within a few short years, USFSM had amassed $28 million to build its new home. Ultimately, Frazee said, the program’s success came down to support from alumni, the surrounding communities and political leaders who saw the advantage of a comprehensive, locally based university campus.

“This was a collective effort,” he said. “We contacted a litany of people and they would call other people. I was the chair of public advocacy, but there were a lot of people who helped, hundreds of people. They all deserve a gigantic piece of the credit, a truly extraordinary team, all working toward a common goal on behalf of USF Sarasota-Manatee, their hometown campus.”

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40th Anniversary Celebration Events

As we celebrate our 40 years in this community, we invite you to join us at one of the celebration events held throughout the year. Please continue to check back as we add additional events to the yearlong celebration throughout the year.