University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee Welcomes Its First Freshman Class


This is the year that the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee makes history.

The fall 2013 semester begins on August 26th and among the new students will be the university’s first-ever  freshman class, a group of outstanding young people with an average GPA of 3.59, average SAT (reading and math) score of 1093 and Composite ACT of 24. Of 389 applicants, 132 or 33 percent (33%) were accepted, with 79 students enrolled as of today.

USFSM freshmen have great stories to tell. Here are just a few:

Sarah Smith not only took her home-schooling/dual enrollment at State College of Florida to a 4.3 GPA (the highest of all incoming freshmen), the Dean’s List and 26 college credits, she also holds a part-time job in a law office, is a Champion Level Irish dancer, a pianist and active member of 4-H. Sarah will be a USFSM ambassador and hopes to study business and become a pharmaceutical representative.

Hannah Veitkus comes to USFSM from Great Britain, where the Kansas City, Kansas, native worked at the beach volleyball venue of the 2012 Summer Olympics, was a leader of the Red Thread Movement to combat human trafficking and helped renovate a secret garden at The American School in England. Hannah plans to major in Psychology with a possible minor in Biology.

Jason Ferguson is the fourth member of his family to attend USF, following in the footsteps of his father, sister and brother. He has already committed to becoming a USFSM ambassador and plans to be active in the Student Government Association. At Lakewood Ranch High School, Jason was on the Varsity soccer and track teams and a scholar-athlete, while holding part-time jobs in retail and at a restaurant.

Why is this historic for USF Sarasota-Manatee?

Since 1974, when USF began offering limited courses in the Sarasota-Manatee area, USFSM has grown to serve more than 4,500 students annually on a unique campus in Sarasota-Manatee and an instructional site in North Port. Until 2012, USFSM was an upper-division transfer university offering undergraduate and graduate course work leading to baccalaureate and master’s degrees.  Accepting sophomores beginning in 2012,  and now the first freshman class in fall 2013, signals USFSM’s major transformation to a four-year university.

To accommodate these underclassmen, USFSM has developed a new University Core Curriculum referred to as the Pillars of Intellectual Engagement.  The Pillars are values and skills that all students should demonstrate when they graduate from USFSM.  These goals and learning outcomes are associated with critical thinking, communication, ethics, leadership, diversity and community engagement.   The faculty developed the new curriculum to align with the qualities and skills that employers seek in effective, leadership level employees. By infusing these pillars into the general education and upper level courses, students may master these critical skills over their entire tenure at USFSM.

USFSM is also building state-of-the-art science labs on the campus of Mote Marine Laboratories. Working together with Mote scientists, who will hold positions as adjunct professors, USFSM will offer biology and chemistry classes this fall, and an inquiry-based B.S. in Biology program in 2014. The curriculum is unique to the region, and incorporates the core concepts and competencies that the National Science Foundation and the American Association for the Advancement of Science state all biology majors should accomplish, contributing to the creation of a new generation of active and productive scientists. “Students in this program will be immersed in the process of science, learning to practice science as science is done,” said Dr. Erin Martin of the College of Arts & Sciences, architect of the new Gen Ed curriculum and Biology program. “This means that instead of conducting experiments for questions that we can already answer they will research and analyze the problems that require inquiry-based learning in at least five original experiments. This laboratory intensive curriculum will give USFSM students an edge when they apply to graduate school, medical school, pharmacy school, or any career path they choose. They will be well-equipped to become leaders in multiple scientific fields.”

“We are thrilled to provide our underclassmen with the advantages of our newly built labs at Mote Marine as an underpinning of our new STEM programs,” said Dr. Arthur Guilford, regional chancellor of USF Sarasota-Manatee. The labs leverage the strengths of both institutions in a marriage of academics, research and business. Mote researchers will share their real-world experience with the students who will one day lead the next wave of Florida’s scientists, engineers, technicians and business visionaries. “In conjunction with Mote’s scientists, we are training the next generation of STEM thinkers to use science and technology-based discoveries as an economic engine for the development of our region,” said Dr. Guilford. “Our graduates will be fully prepared with opportunities to pursue careers in medicine, healthcare, environmental science and other fields utilizing their solid foundation in science.”