Dr. Robert Barylski

40th Anniversary in Focus: Celebrating 40 years, USFSM looks at its history

By: Rich Shopes

Posted: January 25, 2016

Editor’s Note: USF Sarasota-Manatee is celebrating 40 years of serving the community this academic year and to mark the occasion the campus is rolling out a series of 40 stories starting today.

Over the next few week, as we look back on our history, we’ll visit with alumni, deans, donors, chancellors, faculty and others who made a lasting impression as USFSM transitioned from an upper-division-only regional campus to a four-year institution.

We’ll look at USFSM’s four colleges – College of Business, College of Education, College of Arts & Sciences and the College of Hospitality & Tourism Leadership – as well as some of the campus’ game-changing partnerships and programs, such as Brunch on the Bay.

We’ll also recall the valiant efforts of so many alumni and others to help raise the capital to build a new USFSM campus at the former Crosley Estate. Lastly, we’ll take a peek at USFSM’s bright future, looking ahead at further growth as we strive to serve the Sarasota and Manatee communities.

Each weekday another new anniversary story will be presented. Then, as these stories are posted here at the USFSM homepage, they also will be added to a special 40th Anniversary webpage found here: usfsm.edu/anniversary. Click the “Reflections” tab. Also on the 40th Anniversary webpage are a timeline and events listing.

First up, we meet with six USFSM leaders, starting with Dr. Robert Barylski, first dean and chief executive officer.

Dr. Robert Barylski, CEO (1979-1989)

Before USF Sarasota-Manatee was known by that name, there was Dr. Robert Barylski, dean and chief executive officer from 1979 to 1989.

USF and New College of Florida merged in 1975 and in those early years one dean oversaw all of USF’s regional campuses, including Sarasota. However in 1979, the Harvard-educated Barylski was asked to oversee aspects of both USF Sarasota and New College of Florida.

The job wasn’t always easy as the sides followed different academic philosophies. However, Dr. Barylski’s tenure was marked by a period of remarkable growth beneficial to both institutions.

Notably, he collaborated with New College, the New College Foundation, community leaders, USF officials and local government to lay the groundwork for the Harry Sudakoff Conference Center, the Gateway Bridge over U.S. 41 to connect the conference center to New College, and the Jane Bancroft Cook Library, which both institutions share to this day.

But before work on those additions could start, Dr. Barylski had to help develop a master plan to guide the campus’ development.

“The Master Plan identified land that needed to be added to the campus,” he said. “The long-range plan identified the Crosley Estate as the best site to build on in support of USF’s main degree programs. … We were able to build strong community support for the Master Plan. Without the support of business and political leaders, in particular the late (state) Sen. Bob Johnson, the Master Plan would have remained just nice ideas on paper.

“These were dreams which became a master plan and then became a reality,” he said.

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