SARASOTA, Fla. (March 15, 2016) – A new activities and counseling center for USF Sarasota-Manatee student veterans is weeks from opening thanks to the generosity of an anonymous benefactor who contributed $50,000 toward the project.
The contribution, finalized in mid-December, will allow for the complete construction and furnishing of the 625 square-foot, first-floor campus space tentatively called the “USFSM Military and Veterans Success Center.”
“This is just one example of how the community steps up to help us expand services in our region,” Dr. Sandra Stone, regional chancellor for USFSM, said of the project. “We are proud and appreciative of our donors and the commitment they show to our students and our institution.”
Todd Hughes, veterans’ services administrator at USFSM’s Office of Student Services, said the center is expected to open in early April. In addition to a lounge area, it will include study carrels, a kitchenette, a conference room and a new office for Hughes who is currently housed in the Student Services area.
Hughes said veterans visiting the center can learn about their educational benefits under the Veterans Administration, ask about scholarship opportunities at USFSM or seek counseling. They’ll also be able to spend time with other veterans and attend meetings of the Student Veterans’ Society and Wounded Warrior Project, among other groups.
USFSM is home to about 180 student veterans.
“Systemwide, USF is one of the friendliest schools in the nation when it comes to student veterans, and thanks to this generous donation we will now have a place for veterans to spend time with their peers to help them be successful in their educational endeavors,” said Dennis Stover, regional vice chancellor for University Advancement. “We are fortunate to be able to repurpose an existing space so that it can become more student-centric.”
Hughes said that he hopes veterans’ organizations from Sarasota and Manatee counties visit the office regularly to counsel student veterans and veterans from the community.
“This donation is huge for us because it brings our service to the veterans’ community to the next level and these veterans will now have a place where they feel comfortable,” he said. “If they’re challenged with reintegrating into society, they can come here for counseling, or if they just want to be with other veterans they can do that too.”