Bulls Notebook: Homecoming includes history-making moment

USFSM Homecoming Queen Katerina Pluhacek and King Darrell Xayarath share a moment with Rocky.

USFSM Homecoming Queen Katerina Pluhacek and King Darrell Xayarath share a moment with Rocky.

SARASOTA, Fla. (Oct. 9, 2015) – Homecoming Week at USF Sarasota-Manatee offered scores of spirited activities from Thursday’s international food festival to a dodgeball tournament to Wednesday’s Bulls in Biz networking and job fair.

But also on tap was a history-making moment that started Monday with the crowning of senior Darrell Xayarath and junior Katerina Pluhacek as Homecoming king and queen after the pair garnered the most votes the week before.

“I was totally surprised because all the other candidates created really great campaigns,” Pluhacek, a business management and marketing major, said of her victory.

The crowning was significant for the fact that for the first time USFSM’s king and queen were being recognized as such – even during headliner events in Tampa. Regional royalty previously were referred to as earls and countesses at Homecoming functions.

Practically speaking, the change means the regional campuses can expect equal recognition at activities such as Friday’s parade in Tampa where Xayarath and Pluhacek will sit atop a float. The two will garner special seating at Saturday’s football game against Syracuse as well.

Xayarath, a biology student, said he was most looking forward to the parade: “I think it will be really special and an honor to represent USFSM.”

Approved last month, the change had its origins in a Homecoming committee meeting this past summer at USF Tampa. USFSM Student President Alex Benishek urged committee members to promote equal standing between the regional campuses and main campus because all of them operate under the USF System.

“As Bulls, everybody should be treated fairly no matter who they are and what campus they’re from,” Benishek said. “I was very excited when they agreed, very excited because this is something we’ve been working on for years.”

Adjunct Bonnie Silvestri receives statewide award

Kudos to Bonnie Silvestri, director of strategic communications at the Office of Community Engagement and Partnerships at USF Tampa.

Silvestri, also an adjunct USFSM faculty member, was named winner of this year’s statewide Graham-Frey Award, named for the contributions by former Gov. Bob Graham and U.S. Rep. Lou Frey Jr.

The annual award recognizes outstanding contributions to the development of civic learning and engagement in sustaining America’s participatory democracy. Past winners include Barry University associate professor of political science Dr. Sean Foreman, the University of Tampa’s PEACE Volunteer Center and Stetson University political science professor Dr. William Ball.

Given by Florida Campus Compact, a network of college and university presidents and their institutions, the award is set to be presented during a formal ceremony Nov. 5 at Lynn University in Boca Raton. Award winners and finalists were announced three weeks ago.

“It was truly an honor to win this award after focusing on civic engagement for many years both locally and in Tampa,” said Silvestri, who holds a law degree and teaches a weekly online constitutional law class to USFSM students.

A member of the New York State Bar Association, Silvestri also teaches “Women and the Law” during the spring semester and “Examinations of Poverty,” a service-learning class, during the summer.

Harold Keller, director of the Office of Community Engagement and Partnerships, said of Silvestri: “Her interview style effectively urges her interviewees to reflect on the importance of their experiences and the importance of civic engagement around issues critical to society and our communities.”

Dr. Jane Rose, dean of the USFSM’s College of Arts & Sciences, wrote a letter in support of Silvestri’s nomination for the award.

“She has proved a valuable mentor to students seeking to take their undergraduate educational experience to a more advanced level through independent research,” Dr. Rose wrote in her July 16 missive to the Graham-Frey Award Selection Committee. “Bonnie exemplifies the practice of being a civic-engaged scholar.”

USFSM faculty article published in textbook

An article by USF Sarasota-Manatee faculty members Dr. Wilma Davidson and Prof. Tod Roberts is gaining attention lately.

“Get it in Writing: New Survey Reveals Paradoxes about Workplace Writers” has been included in the textbook A Rhetorical Approach to Workplace Writing Practices, second edition, published this past August.

The article also appeared in the October 2014 edition of Writing Commons, but now has potential for wider attention as part of a textbook used by instructors and students at universities nationwide. The article was included as part of chapter 2.

“It’s great to get the word out and it’s exciting to know that something you have written might light up a bulb in a student’s mind,” Dr. Davidson said.

Both Dr. Davidson and Prof. Roberts teach professional and technical communications.