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Upcoming Master’s Degree Information Sessions

Information Session

The University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee will hold informational open houses for prospective master’s degree students in January 2014.

Attendees will receive a brief overview of the university, information about specific master’s degree programs, the admissions process, financial aid and other services. There will be complimentary food and beverages in addition to a campus tour. There will also be an opportunity to meet in small groups with the appropriate academic advisors to discuss prerequisites, transcripts and other details pertaining to individual programs of interest, and to meet faculty and graduates.

January 9, 2014                                                         
Master’s in Social Work*                                         
4:00-5:30 p.m.                                                           
Selby Auditorium
RSVP                                                    

January 25, 2014
All Master’s Degrees
9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
Selby Auditorium
RSVP

Master’s degree programs include:

  • Business Administration
  • Criminal Justice Administration
  • Education (Human Resource Education or Online Teaching and Learning)
  • Educational Leadership
  • English Education
  • Exceptional Student Education
  • Hospitality Management
  • Social Work
  • Teaching

Note: The Master of Social Work degree program has a February 15, 2014 application deadline. It is a cohort, taught as a group over eight consecutive semesters and hosted at USF Sarasota-Manatee. A fall 2014 cohort start date is contingent upon a minimum number of qualified acceptances; without the minimum number, the start date would be delayed to January 2015. Website: www.usfsm.edu.

Tuesday Talks: Dr. Wilma Davidson, Professional & Technical Communication

Each Tuesday, we sit down with members of the faculty to discuss their expertise, recent research and some of their accomplishments.  This week, USFSM takes a closer look at Dr. Wilma Davidson.

Wilma Davidson, Ed.D., Professional & Technical Communication, has enjoyed a notable career in both academic and corporate classrooms, teaching oral and written communication skills in the USA and abroad.  She holds an undergraduate and two graduate degrees in English and Journalism and earned her doctorate from Rutgers University, with an emphasis on Business Communications.

While at Rutgers she also served as a facilitator for a national writing project, instructing hundreds of educators to teach writing more effectively across the curriculum.  Besides teaching, she ghostwrites and edits technical and business material, and she coaches high-level executives in presentation skills.  Dr. Davidson has written more than 75 articles; and her work has been featured and reviewed in prominent publications including The New York TimesFortune, and Business Week.  Besides her published articles, she has authored several books on the art of writing and communicating.

Class Project Turns Into Successful Business for USFSM Alumna

Beth Lukens Cloud 9 Confections USF Sarasota-Manatee USFSM Hospitality Alumni Alumna

Beth Lukens’s idea for a confection business began during her senior year at USF Sarasota-Manatee disguised as a sweet classroom project. She created a business plan for a fictitious food service establishment complete with menus, interviews with real world businesses and a cost analysis. “I created Cloud 9 Confections and told myself someday it’d be more than just a school project,” said the hospitality management graduate.


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Today, Cloud 9 Confections is a custom “bake to order” enterprise in South Tampa, where Lukens fulfills special requests from customers through her website: www.cloud-9-confections.com.Beth Lukens Cloud 9 Confections USF Sarasota-Manatee USFSM Hospitality Alumni Alumna

Lukens always had a passion for food and hoped she could one day incorporate her baking skills into her professional life. After seeing one too many shows on the Food Network and thinking “I could do that,” she decided to make her dream a reality. Cloud 9 Confections offers not only cupcakes, but cookies, toffee, chocolate bark, chocolate dipped pretzels and other seasonal items. Lukens prides herself on making confections in small batches to guarantee quality every time, catering mainly to holiday parties, baby and bridal showers, bachelorette parties, weddings, teacher gifts, corporate give-a-ways, tailgate parties and lunch box treats.


Learn more about Cloud 9 Confections


In addition to catering and selling an assortment of confections, she offers classes at The Epicurean Hotel in Tampa as well as hosting themed parties for her clients. “I not only sell cupcakes, I show others how to make them for themselves,” Lukens commented.  These parties are derived from the show Cupcake Wars which airs on the Food Network.  Party attendees are divided into teams that compete to make and display themed cupcakes. “Everyone has lots of fun and learns about baking in the process,” said Lukens.

Beth Lukens Cloud 9 Confections USF Sarasota-Manatee USFSM Hospitality Alumni AlumnaBut when it comes to the success of her small business, Lukens credits USFSM for its fundamental education and real-world benefits. “I use skills learned at USFSM every day,” said Lukens. “From the basics like accounting and cost control to the less tangible ones like people skills and marketing.”  She believes her experience with the university’s professors helped shape who she is today and the smaller classes helped cultivate an ideal environment for learning.

“USFSM is a great environment to learn and foster a passion for hospitality, while being immersed in a community that truly embraces the culture,” said Lukens.

The entrepreneur also appreciated having small classes and “many opportunities to visit various hospitality operations in the community.”  She considers Sarasota a perfect location for a degree based in tourism.  “There are endless resources and the community support is great.”

Tuesday Talks: Dr. Marie Byrd, Elementary Education

Each Tuesday, we sit down with members of the faculty to discuss their expertise, recent research and some of their accomplishments.  This week, USFSM takes a closer look at Dr. Marie Byrd.

Marie Byrd is an associate professor in the Department of Childhood Education and Literacy Studies at the University of South Florida, Sarasota-Manatee. A native Floridian, she received her BS and MS in Elementary Education from Florida State University and Florida International University, respectively and her EdD in Educational Administration and Supervision with a minor in Curriculum and Instruction from Florida International University. Marie has a strong background in urban school education with 15 years of service in the Miami Dade County Public Schools, Miami, Florida as a teacher, Title One Curriculum Specialist, and Assistant Principal. Prior to arriving at USF Sarasota Manatee in fall 2007, Marie held the title of assistant professor in Educational Administration at the University of Memphis and at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

USFSM Professors Receive ASA Grant to Support Community Action Research

USF Sarasota-Manatee College of Arts & Sciences professors Dr. Melissa Sloan and Dr. Jane Roberts received a grant from the American Sociological Association to support their community action research project with Family Safety Alliance (FSA). FSA is a local organization devoted to engaging the community in the oversight and improvement of the local child welfare system. It comprises representatives from local government, juvenile justice, child service organizations, faith-based organizations, educational and medical systems and the community at large.

”I am excited to receive support for this project from the American Sociological Association,” said Sloan. “The ASA is the national organization for sociologists with over 13,000 members and they provide a limited number of grants.”

Sloan and Roberts’s research will identify gaps, strengths and weaknesses in the system of care for families and children in Sarasota, Manatee and DeSoto counties and strengthen community partnerships. “This project will enable us to develop a holistic view of the strengths in the system and will shed light on areas in need of increased resources and community involvement,” said Sloan. “An additional benefit of bringing together diverse community members within the stakeholder groups will be the facilitation of partnerships within and across groups as well as the devotion of concentrated attention to the needs of local families.”

The grant will fund undergraduate student research assistants, provide compensation for study participants and enable the purchase of data analysis software for faculty and student use. The results of Sloan’s and Roberts’s research will inform the strategic planning efforts of the FSA, helping to establish models of academic-community partnerships and generate policy recommendations.

“Partnering with this organization will allow USFSM to connect with various segments of our community and will enable us to apply social research methods to address community needs,” said Sloan. “The safety of children and families is critical to the well-being of a community as a whole and requires partnerships among several groups including but not limited to educators, health service providers, public administrators, religious organizations, legal professionals and community leaders.”

These research findings will also be utilized in USFSM’s classrooms. In the fall, Dr. Roberts will teach a service learning special topic course titled “Selected Topics in Interdisciplinary Social Sciences”, which will focus on family and child welfare, incorporating the history of Florida’s child welfare system, detailed examination of the community context and relevant organizations and social inequalities.

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About USF Sarasota-Manatee (USFSM)
USF Sarasota-Manatee is a regional campus of the University of South Florida system, offering the prestige of a nationally ranked research university with the convenience of a hometown location, including classes in North Port in Manatee County and online. USFM is ideal for those interested in pursuing a baccalaureate or master’s degree, professional certification, or continuing education credit in a small, personal setting with distinguished faculty and a dynamic curriculum of over 40 academic programs. Website: www.usfsm.edu

USFSM Prepares High School Students for SAT

USF Sarasota-Manatee offers free SAT prep class to high school students

Twenty-five high school seniors recently took part in a free test prep class for college admission at USF Sarasota-Manatee. From 10 to 5 on July 28 through August 1, the students received instruction and  practice in essay writing, vocabulary, math tips and tricks and basic tools for test taking, taught by Dr. Su Senapati, faculty coordinator of Learning Support and two tutors, Debra McCarthy, a graduate student in the MA Education program and Jackie Pham-Mowry, who graduated with a Finance degree from USFSM in May. The class also included career counseling, financial aid, the college admissions process and success strategies.

The was a pilot program recommended by USFSM marketing students in their capstone project for Dr. James Curran’s Marketing Management Problems class in Spring 2014. In interviews with high schoolers, the marketing students learned that there was a lot of anxiety about taking the SAT and other college admission exams, and that a class would be a welcome option for local seniors. The sessions filled immediately with a waiting list, which proved them right.

Professor Receives Funding for Research on the Higher Education Experience

The University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee has been awarded a $289,336 sub-award through Clark University as part of a 1.45 million dollar grant funded by the John Templeton Foundation, to study how universities around the world can help students find a strong sense of purpose.

Jenni Menon Mariano, associate professor in the College of Education, oversees the USFSM sub-award and is co-principal investigator on the larger grant with principal investigator Seana Moran, research assistant professor of psychology at Clark University in Massachusetts.


Learn more about Dr. Jenni Menon Mariano


The research will survey hundreds of students in six countries to learn how college can be made meaningful and relevant to them in a way that also helps students make a positive difference in their communities. The work will start an international conversation on optimizing higher education’s contribution to purpose development by engaging scholars in the U.S. and abroad in research and field-building activities over a three-year period.

Part of the USFSM award supports research that will engage both instructors and students in courses across the university system in collaboration with the USF Office of Community Engagement and Partnerships. The award will also partially fund students to engage in the research process where they will learn valuable research skills.


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“I think this type of education –where there aren’t borders between one’s life and one’s formal education –can really inspire social innovation,” said USF Sarasota-Manatee’s Mariano. “These are things the next generation needs and the world needs from the next generation. This research will investigate how college experiences can provide direction to youths’ lives, as well as the knowledge, skills, and momentum to contribute positively to the community. So little research has been done on how education and one’s life purpose connect. The University of South Florida is an ideal place to launch a study of this type because the university provides so many opportunities for students to engage in real-world and community-engaged learning venues. USFSM is increasingly known for its work with community partners, and the USF system in general is distinguished for its community-engaged focus. Also, faculty at USFSM conduct high quality research that is both basic and applied.  We are a diverse group of scholars who I think demonstrate that the academic world and real-world venues are not at odds with each other, but that there is actually a solid, natural, and necessary connection between the two.  There is a real concern at USFSM for having a positive social impact through scholarship, which is what this particular research study is all about.”

The John Templeton Foundation serves as a philanthropic catalyst for discoveries relating to the big questions of human purpose and ultimate reality. The foundation supports research on subjects ranging from complexity, evolution, and infinity to creativity, forgiveness, love, and free will. They encourage civil, informed dialogue among scientists, philosophers, and theologians and between such experts and the public at large, for the purposes of definitional clarity and new insights.

“We hope to promote experiences in higher education that help develop purpose both here in the United States and around the world, said Mariano. “We’re fortunate to be working with several distinguished partners in other countries who think this goal is as important as we do, and we look forward to a mutually beneficial partnership with our collaborators.”

Mariano has worked extensively in community development and research including coordinating a peace-building program in post-war Bosnia in response to the United Nations International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World. She teaches courses on positive human development and community and school engagement and has published widely on the topics of purpose, how people achieve excellent and ethical work, and positive youth development. She holds a PhD from Stanford University in psychology and education and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Toronto. Her research on how people and communities thrive spans several years in which she has interviewed and surveyed hundreds of young people across the United States and Canada. Mariano’s framework rests on the idea that the development of a noble life purpose is a foundation to our well-being, dignity, and equality.

Seana Moran’s work addresses how individuals contribute to their various communities and how they become more aware and intentional of the effects of those contributions on others. She researches and teaches courses on purpose development, creativity, collaboration, and wise decision-making. She holds master and doctorate degrees in human development and psychology from Harvard University, an MBA from the University of New Mexico and a BA from the University of Southern California.

“We are fortunate to be able to assist many highly gifted people and distinguished institutions around the world,” explains Jack Templeton on the Templeton Foundation’s official website. “Whenever possible, we try to get involved early enough in people’s careers that we can make a big difference in their work and allow them to realize their fullest potential.”

Bryan Jacobs Cooks Up a Career

Bryan Jacobs USF Sarasota-Manatee Hospitality

As a child, Bryan Jacobs spent the summers with his grandparents, spending most of his spare time in the kitchen. “While most kids were making mud pies, I was making roast beef,” he recalls.

Jacobs, currently a senior in the College of Hospitality and Technology Leadership, began his culinary exploits at the age of 8 alongside his grandfather, a World War II chef. For the past two years, he has held jobs as a personal chef for two high profile clients: both former president George W. Bush and the Anheuser-Busch family (no relation).


 Learn more about the College of Hospitality and Technology Leadership


This heady job experience came about after Jacobs began cooking at the Gasparilla Inn in Boca Grande, Florida, where, after working his way through the tiers of training, he was promoted to sous chef at the Pink Elephant. The Anheuser-Busch clan eats regularly at the popular restaurant and they became acquainted. Through conversations, the Anheuser-Busches learned of Jacobs’ experience as a combat veteran and his difficult re-entry into civilian life.

Jacobs followed his grandfather’s footsteps into the military. After service as a Marine Corps paramedic in both

Bryan Jacobs USF Sarasota-Manatee George Bush Chef Hospitality Jobs

Jacobs (right) serves as the personal chef for former president George W. Bush.

Iraq and Afghanistan, he returned to the United States but found the readjustment very stressful.  He became homeless, lived in his car and worked as a personal trainer, all while struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  “As a lot of vets often do, you lose your focus,” said Jacobs. “You’re so used to being told what to do and how to do it that it becomes hard to fold back into society.”

Jacobs cycled through 16 jobs and knew something had to change. The turning point came when he was sitting on a park bench and someone mentioned to him, “You need to get your life together”.  He began staying with a friend and upon seeing a TV commercial for culinary school, realized becoming a chef was his calling.

Cooking turned Jacobs’ life around, and meeting the Anheuser-Busches brought out his best.  “I would always go the extra mile, especially for them, because of how pleasant, nice and grateful they were towards me being a veteran,” said Jacobs. “I put in my notice to Gasparilla Inn to return to school and pursue my degree at USF Sarasota-Manatee.  When the family learned of my resignation, they sent someone to speak to me about becoming the family’s private chef, and the rest is history!”

Through his position with the Anheuser-Busch family, Jacobs met many distinguished guests, including 43rd U.S. President George W. Bush. After speaking at a dinner party hosted in his honor, President Bush offered Jacobs a job to serve as a personal chef for the Bush family in addition to his other catering responsibilities. This turned out to be a wonderful relationship, including opportunities to cook side-by-side with family members such as matriarch Barbara Bush.  “The Anheuser-Busch family allows me to attend school, better myself and they understand that my education comes first, even before working for them,” explained Jacobs. “They’re flexible with my school schedule and fly me wherever they need me to be.”

A typical day for this multi-tasking student/chef begins at 6:30 a.m. and ends around 11:30 p.m., not including homework and school projects. Occasionally, Jacobs must coordinate with professors about homework or exams to guarantee he does not miss materials while he is preparing for a catering event on the same day. He has many clients now and creates custom seasonal menus and shops for ingredients before preparing the meals from scratch in their homes.

In addition to acting as a personal chef for both the Anheuser-Busch and Bush families, Jacobs is very active in a new pilot program just underway at the USFSM Culinary Innovation Lab in Lakewood Ranch. Via a van donated by restaurateur and businessman Burton M. “Skip” Sack, Jacobs transports veterans to a culinary “boot camp” specially designed for them to gain kitchen skills that will get them hired in local restaurants. The purpose of the program is to bridge the gap between what students learn in culinary schools and real world techniques used in restaurants day-to-day. Jacobs is hoping to develop sponsorships with restaurants and others in the community to make veterans job-ready.

Bryan Jacobs wants all vets to taste the success he has found in the hospitality field.

Tuesday Talks: Dr. Jenni Menon Mariano, Secondary Education & Literacies Curriculum

Each Tuesday, we sit down with members of the faculty to discuss their expertise, recent research and some of their accomplishments. This week, USFSM takes a closer look at Dr. Jenni Mennon Mariano.

Dr. Mariano is an associate professor in the College of Education and chairs the secondary education and literacies curriculum area. After developing a peace-building program in post-war Bosnia in response to the United Nations International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World, she became a pioneer in the field of purpose development. Dr. Mariano earned her PhD from Stanford University where she was a member of William Damon’s research group and worked on the first youth purpose studies. As a Positive Psychology Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania she examined life purpose in the well-known Study of Adult Development, which is arguably the longest study of adult development in the world. Also, as a scholar on the Good Work Project run by the Stanford Center on Adolescence, Jenni studied how individuals accomplish work that is both excellent and ethical.

Dr. Mariano’s scholarly work appears in a wide range of leading journals and practitioner publications. She serves on the editorial board of Applied Developmental Science, and is a frequent reviewer for several other journals including the Journal of Positive Psychology, the Journal of Research in Adolescence, Developmental Psychology, Child Development Perspectives, the Journal of Youth Development, and the Journal of Research in Character Education. Jenni’s research on positive human development has been funded by grants from the Florida Campus Compact, the Spencer Foundation, and the John Templeton Foundation. She currently collaborates with scholars around the world. Jenni’s framework rests on the idea that the development of a noble life purpose is foundational to our well-being, dignity, and equality. She is dedicated to developing top notch research and programs that help all people develop and realize a sense of purpose in their lives.

Tuesday Talks: Dr. James Curran, Marketing

Each Tuesday, we sit down with members of the faculty to discuss their expertise, recent research and some of their accomplishments.  This week, USFSM takes a closer look at Dr. James Curran.

Dr. James (Jim) Curran was selected by the USF Sarasota-Manatee faculty to serve as president of the Faculty senate for the 2014-15 academic year.

Dr. Curran has over 35 years of experience working and researching in the field of marketing. Dr. Curran has taught courses on more than twenty different topics in marketing and management and delivered these courses on both the graduate and undergraduate levels. His research interests include the use of technologies in marketing, customer loyalty, and customer relationship management.

The results of his research have been presented nationally and internationally and have been cited more than 650 times by other researchers. Dr Curran’s work has been published in theJournal of Service Research, Journal of Services Marketing, Journal of Relationship Marketing, Psychology & Marketing, Journal of Marketing Theory & Practice, Journal of Marketing Education, Journal of Business to Business Marketing, and other journals. Prior to joining the marketing faculty, he held sales and marketing positions with  four large international precious metals firms, spent time consulting, and managed his own manufacturer representative business.

Dr. Curran holds a Ph.D. in Business Administration/Marketing and an M.B.A from the University of Rhode Island and a B.A. in Mathematics from Fordham University.