Editor’s note: The story here is part of a series of 40 stories commemorating USF Sarasota-Manatee’s 40th anniversary this academic year. For more about USFSM’s history, please visit usfsm.edu/anniversary.
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.”