Dr. Michael Bassis

40th Anniversary in Focus: Dr. Bassis helped to oversee USF, New College split

By: Rich Shopes

Posted: January 27, 2016

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.

USF Sarasota and New College operated side-by-side since the mid-1970s, but the institutions subscribed to vastly different academic philosophies.

“USF was an open program and it was concerned about helping kids get jobs,” said Dr. Michael Bassis, USF Sarasota dean and warden from 1999 to 2001. “New College was a progressive liberal arts college, an honors college.”

In order to flourish and grow, the two agreed to part ways in 2001. Helping to manage that transition fell to Dr. Bassis who remained concerned about questions that still lay ahead: Would the institutions continue to grow and would they find common ground despite their differences? The short answer to both was yes.

Enrollment grew and the schools flourished, plus the fact they keep close ties to this day – sharing the Jane Bancroft Cook Library and the Counseling & Wellness Center, for example – is a testament to their continued cooperation.

“Looking back, it was probably the best thing for them both to separate,” Dr. Bassis said.

Formally on its own in May 2001, USF Sarasota-Manatee moved to its campus north of New College five years later.

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