USF Sarasota-Manatee scholarship benefits from generous donor


SARASOTA, Fla. (May 8, 2015) – For students like Jennifer Caba, Alex Benishek and scores of others at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, the Clyde G. Nixon International Business Endowment Scholarship is a treasure that has opened their eyes to the world around them.

Now, that scholarship fund is reaching new heights.

Thanks to an anonymous $40,000 donation that was matched and surpassed by $52,000 in contributions by community members, this year’s combined gift level has reached $92,000. Total endowed funds to date have hit $370,000.

The anonymous donor provided the gift in honor of the scholarship’s namesake, Clyde G. Nixon, who would have turned 80 on Sunday.

“What a joy to continue to celebrate Clyde as a former USF Sarasota-Manatee leader and community leader with this ongoing scholarship for international study for our College of Business students,” Dennis Stover, regional vice chancellor for university advancement, said of the anonymous contribution.

Altogether, the university manages more than $4 million in scholarship endowments with projected annual earnings of $157,000 and receives more than $200,000 annually in direct scholarship gifts.

Nixon’s wife, Joan Nixon, said the international business endowment scholarship was established by friends and family after her husband’s death in 2007. Nixon was the former chairman of Sarasota-based Sun Hydraulics.

Combining Nixon’s love of travel and education, the scholarship provides students the opportunity to study abroad each summer while exploring new cultures.

Caba, for example, studied in Poland, visited the Auschwitz concentration camp and along the way helped build a clinic in partnership with Habitat for Humanity.

Benishek traveled throughout Japan, including its industrial areas to learn how factories operate there.

Including those two students, the fund has helped a dozen young people travel to countries that otherwise they might never have visited.

Two more students are expected to take trips this summer thanks to the Nixon scholarship.

To learn more about giving to this or other programs at USF Sarasota-Manatee, please contact Dennis Stover at (941) 359-4582.

USF Sarasota-Manatee researcher: Band class more than just music


SARASOTA, Fla. (May 7, 2015) – Dr. Susan Fulton and her husband, John, were talking about budget cuts to school band programs a couple years ago when Fulton was struck by an idea that offered potential as a research topic.

She wondered whether basic musical training – learning to recognize changes in pitch, rhythm and tempo – could help children and young adults distinguish sounds more clearly.

Researchers have long acknowledged a connection between mathematical skill and musicality. Similarly, Fulton wondered if musical ability might actually produce a positive impact on auditory processing and provide the skills to understand speech in noisy environments. Put another way, can the brain’s capacity to distinguish sounds be improved through musical training?

Fulton, a researcher and assistant professor of Communication Sciences & Disorders at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, is about to find out.

Three weeks ago, she received word she had been awarded an $8,490 New Researcher Grant from the University of South Florida to put her theories to the test.

Starting this summer, she’ll begin recruiting 40 USF students to serve as research subjects. To be eligible they must be between the ages of 19 and 40, have no more than two years of musical training, have no speech or neurological disorders and hear within normal ranges.

Students chosen for the study will receive extra credit.

The subjects will be expected to participate in hearing and brain wave measurements to establish a baseline.

Afterward, they’ll undergo two months of daily musical training through the online site, At the end, they’ll return for another round of hearing and brainwave tests to determine whether any changes occurred in the brain’s ability to distinguish sounds.

“Few studies have examined the benefits of musical training in non-musicians and no studies have examined the effects of online music training using common auditory processing tests,” she said.

Fulton already has access to a sound-attenuating booth at USF St. Petersburg, as well as a Compumedics Neuroscan device to analyze electrical brain activity thanks to a researcher friend at USF’s Tampa campus.

The bulk of the grant, she said, will go toward purchasing an audiometer, a machine that tests hearing. Commonly used by audiologists, audiometers emit tones of varying frequency and loudness, as well as words. The device can send sounds to one or both ears and control the volume of those sounds. The model Fulton has her eye on runs about $7,890.

If she can prove her theory – that online musical training improves auditory processing – then the door could open to a range of therapies for children who suffer auditory processing disorders, which afflict about 5 percent of school-aged children nationwide as well as 43 percent of children with learning difficulties, she said.

On a broader level, the findings might also demonstrate to boards of education and policy makers that school music programs make good academic sense.

Beyond their cultural contribution, the programs can have direct bearing on core academic performance and play a critical role in overall learning.

However, months of rigorous testing and data crunching lie ahead before Fulton can make that claim.

She figures the entire project – recruiting and testing the subjects, subjecting them to online musical training, then running more tests and analyzing the data – will take a minimum of six months.

The grant’s funding will likely come this summer.

“Changes in the brain often manifest electro-physiologically before they show up in behavioral measures,” she said. “This study will allow me to examine both at the same time in young listeners.”

BLOG: USF Sarasota-Manatee instructor Ross Alander retires


SARASOTA, Fla. (May 5, 2015) – College of Business instructor Ross Alander has retired from the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, though he says he intends to stay busy in his golden years.

Alander, 71, who left after the spring term, said he felt “it was time to go,” after first “coming down here 10 to 15 years ago to teach on Saturdays.”

A former vice president for Human Resources at Tampa General Hospital, Alander parlayed his part-time teaching role into a full-time position at the university, teaching principals of management, negotiations, international management and human resources.

“Back then, it was part of New College. It was nice. It was a small college and you really got to know the people there.”

A Vietnam veteran, Alander also served as faculty advisor to the Student Veteran Society, a role that had him interacting regularly with veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Working with those young men and women, it was very satisfying,” he said. “They are a wonderful group of young people coming back.”

As far as the future, Alander, who lives in Tampa, said he’s looking forward to more golf, but it won’t be all fun, adding he’ll also continue working as a labor negotiator and arbitrator through his consulting business, Alander Consulting. Alander also handles farmworker labor issues.

USF Sarasota-Manatee grads look to Career Services office for next step

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SARASOTA, Fla. (May 4, 2015) – Michael Aemisegger Jr. is set to start an accounting job next week. Jessica Mahon has already lined up an insurance sales position. And Will Riforgiat is eyeing two possible jobs at Publix Super Markets Inc., in associate relations or employee assistance.

The three, who were among the 286 who graduated Sunday from the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, credited the university for opening doors to their new careers.

“It definitely helped on the communications side,” Mahon, 30, said as she waited to receive a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary social sciences at the Bradenton Area Convention Center, the site of the university’s 63rd commencement ceremony.

“The Career Services Center … helped me build a better resume and that definitely helped me find a new job,” said Mahon, who landed a position at State Farm in Lakewood Ranch.

For many approaching graduation, the center’s help is indispensable.

Aemisegger, 29, parlayed an internship this past spring into an accounting job at Kerkering, Barberio & Co. in Sarasota.

Like Mahon, he turned to the USF Sarasota-Manatee Career Services office for help taking the next step. The office helped polish his resume while also producing business cards and a personal website to highlight several class projects.

“They also ran through an interview with me, going over different kinds of questions they might ask, body language, stuff you wouldn’t think of,” said Aemisegger, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. “You have to do everything you can to differentiate yourself from the other job candidates.”

Since moving to the first-floor student services wing in August 2013, Career Services has boosted job and internship placements, while increasing its employer list. Students can sit with a counselor or scan online resources, including OptimalResume, a program that helps users build resumes, web portfolios and business cards. The program can also run through mock interviews, as in Aemisegger’s case.

From May 2014 to this past April, the center’s student registrations doubled while the number of employers posting openings for jobs and internships rose 44 percent. The Sarasota-Manatee campus

Left to right: Regional Chancellor for USF Sarasota-Manatee Dr. Sandra Stone, Outstanding Graduate Award Winner Colleen Bankuty and USF System President Dr. Judy Genshaft at Sunday's commencement.

Left to right: Regional Chancellor for USF Sarasota-Manatee Dr. Sandra Stone, Outstanding Graduate Award Winner Colleen Bankuty and USF System President Dr. Judy Genshaft at Sunday’s commencement.

placed more than 150 students during that time.

Higher visibility – moving out of the student government wing to a newly renovated space – accounted for part of that increase. Also helping, the center added a career coach and an internship coordinator for hospitality and technology jobs to further boost placements.

“Our main goal is career readiness to make sure that students have all the tools and resources that they need … to find a job,” said Toni Ripo, Coordinator of Career Services. “Several times in their lifetime they might change not just jobs but careers, and they will need to know how to retool and rebrand and get back into the job market quickly.”

Aemisegger won’t be alone when he strides into Kerkering Barberio May 11 to start his new job.

He’ll have company in the form of fellow alum Colleen Bankuty, this year’s recipient of the Outstanding Graduate Award.

Like Aemisegger, Bankuty worked first as an intern at Kerkering Barberio.

She landed the position after a meet-and-greet with about a dozen accounting firms at USF Sarasota-Manatee’s Selby Auditorium. By September 2013, the 28-year-old mother of two had a job offer in hand.

“They asked me to come back after the 2013 tax season,” she said.

As she spoke, dozens of degree candidates clad in USF-green commencement robes waited outside the convention hall to march inside. Although 175 candidates attended the ceremony, the 2015 spring class included many more: 286 in all (253 bachelor’s degree and 33 master’s degree candidates).

As the group strode inside, hundreds of well-wishers – friends and family – applauded loudly and snapped photos from folding chairs and the bleachers.

Dr. Sandra Stone, regional chancellor for USF Sarasota-Manatee, also received a loud cheer.

Addressing the graduates, she spoke of partnerships between the university and surrounding community, in particular with organizations where faculty and students played a role this past academic year, such as the Resort at Longboat Key Club, the Mote Marine Laboratory and the Manatee County School District.

“Impactful programs and projects like these are built because of students like you and because of the dedication and foresight of our local leaders, business owners, alumni and friends,” Dr. Stone said.

She was followed by USF System President Dr. Judy Genshaft, who presided over the ceremony. She told the graduates:

“For the third year in a row, USF ranked among the top of the State University System of Florida’s performance funding measures based on important criteria such as graduation rate, degrees produced in areas of critical need and average starting salaries.

“That means our students have been the ones to work hard to graduate in the tough fields of today’s global job market and are the ones now in demand as new employees,” she said. “This is your achievement.”

USF Sarasota-Manatee athletic courts project nears completion

Crews continue work Friday on the new basketball court at USF Sarasota-Manatee

Crews continue work Friday on the new basketball court at USF Sarasota-Manatee

SARASOTA, Fla. (May 1, 2015) – Finishing touches were made a month ago to the volleyball court and in matter of weeks the basketball court will be ready for play.

At the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, students are making their voices heard on scores of new projects around campus.

The courtyard and barbecue area built west of the campus building six years ago is one example. The latest is the basketball and volleyball courts.

Initiated by student government, the two-part project was funded by $260,000 in Capital Improvement Trust Fund monies – fees paid by students to support non-academic projects.

Student representatives met with campus administration last summer to urge that the funds go toward the athletic facilities. Administrators readily agreed.

Incoming student body President Alex Benishek said the project’s motivation was two-fold: To carve out a relaxed, student-friendly atmosphere appropriate to campus life and to leave a legacy at USF Sarasota-Manatee, while urging successive classes to leave their mark as well.

“We heard from students that this is what they wanted,” he said. “A lot of students said they wanted to stay on campus (after classes), but there are not a lot of recreational options.”

Freshmen, in particular, wanted more on-campus activities, he said.

Local architects Fawley Bryant and general contractor Willis Smith Construction were hired to design and build the courts. Work began in January. The sand volleyball court, next to the barbecue area, was finished a few weeks ago.

The basketball court is taking longer because workers needed to relocate a water line and other utilities before starting construction. The project will wrap up later this month.

Richard Lyttle, the campus’ director of facilities and planning, said crews need to finish adding the lighting, landscaping and a water fountain.

They also plan to add a thick green coating to the blacktop, striping and a green-and-gold USF logo at the center of the court.

The surface needs to cure a week or so before applying the coating. Altogether, he estimates another three or four weeks, weather permitting, before everything is finished.

“It’s a nice project. It’s their legacy really,” he said, referring to the students.

Benishek said he’s pleased by the result so far.

“It’s great. It’s very impressive. It’s great to see how a student government plan works and to see it built and created before your eyes,” he said.

The courts will be for student-use only, not for the public. Benishek said there was discussion about allowing public use, but the cost of having to carry additional insurance was prohibitive.

“It’s not that we’re opposed to it, but at the end of the day this is for the students,” he said.

He said he envisions the formation of sports clubs, possibly with on-campus tournaments, starting in the fall.

Approved clubs could be eligible for seed money for equipment and apparel from student government. After that, they could apply for a yearly stipend.

Likely, a ceremony to christen the courts will be held this summer.

“I’d like to see the first game be students versus faculty,” he said.

Musician relishes journey, finds new calling at USF Sarasota-Manatee

Left to right, Vince Buckwalter, Mark Miller, Mark Marshall and Mike Townsend of Stryker.

Left to right, Vince Buckwalter, Mark Miller, Mark Marshall and Mike Townsend of Stryker.

SARASOTA, Fla. (April 29, 2015)  – Anyone kicking around Sarasota’s club scene 20 years ago might remember the band Stryker.

Scratch your memory a little harder and you might recall Vince Buckwalter, the vocalist, guitarist and keyboard player who eventually left the group to record on his own in Nashville.

Buckwalter, who also goes by Vin Lamar, charted a few songs and saw some radio play, but lasting musical fame outside Sarasota eluded him. Lately, his life has taken a different path.

Now, he’s a student at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee and on Sunday he’ll graduate with a bachelor’s degree in psychology.

Already, he’s been accepted into a master’s program at USF St. Petersburg, where he’ll start classes in the fall.

Buckwalter, 56, takes it all in stride, reflecting on the twists and turns his life has taken. Along the way, he married, had three children, got divorced and married again. Two of his kids, his daughters, attend college with him as students themselves.

Gone are the late-night parties. He’s replaced them with books and online course work. He’s more interested in pursuing research and helping disadvantaged children than jamming on stage, he says.

Playing in a local band had its moments, though.

“We were weekend warriors,” said Buckwalter, who worked construction at the time. “We all had jobs during the week. One was a bank administrator. In a way, it was therapeutic for us.”

Back in the 1990s, the band amassed a local following and frequently popped up at the 5 O’Clock Club on Hillview Street in Sarasota, at Cha Cha Coconuts on St. Armand’s Circle and the Beach Club on Siesta Key.

The group recorded a CD in the mid-1990s, during its height, but mostly remained a local act playing cover songs. Buckwalter has no regrets, though. He cherishes the memories.

“Stop Making Sense,” Jonathan Demme’s concert movie featuring the Talking Heads, hit theaters in the mid-1980s and Buckwalter seized on the film, in particular lead singer David Byrne’s “big suit” persona.

Buckwalter found a suit like Byrne’s and emulated the singer during performances of “Psycho Killer” and “Life During Wartime,” running across the stage.

He smiles at the memory: “It was magic when we got up on stage on the weekends.”

Buckwalter grew up in Lancaster, Penn., and attended Michigan State University and Hesston College in Kansas, studying a range of subjects, including psychology. But as the semesters rolled by, Buckwalter’s interest in education waned. It was replaced by a love of music fueled by jam sessions in his dorm room.

Leaving college, he moved to Tampa to live with his father, Nevin Buckwalter, then relocated to Sarasota to room with college friends from Hesston, figuring he might make music his life’s work.

Seizing on the popularity of John Travolta’s “Urban Cowboy” flick, he joined the three-piece Riding High Band, playing country and country-rock. He jumped to mainstream rockers Stryker in 1984.

The group produced a CD, “Go Like Mad,” but never saw much attention outside Sarasota. Weary of the routine, Buckwalter quit the band and set out on his own in 2000.

“I was getting tired of doing the same thing, playing the same clubs,” he said. “We released the CD five years earlier, but no one wanted to do anything with it. I just felt I didn’t want to do it anymore.”

He flew back and forth to Nashville to record his own material and saw some radio play, but ran out of cash to continue recording and promoting his songs. Plus, the trips were taking a personal toll, prompting Buckwalter to consider a change.

“It wasn’t making any sense,” he said. “I needed my life to focus on something positive, instead of just waiting for something to happen. I chose psychology because … I thought maybe, through my life’s experiences, I may be able to help others in some way or have something to add to the field.”

This time around, Buckwalter’s interest in education hasn’t waned. If anything, it’s intensified.

He’s set to graduate magna cum laude on Sunday and has been accepted into the master’s program at USF St. Pete.

He also has found time to urge daughters, Brynne, 26, and Jana, 24, to focus on their education as well. His oldest child, Kyle, 29, lives and works in New York City. Brynne and Jana attend USF Sarasota-Manatee.

While Buckwalter doesn’t attend classes with his daughters, he often runs into them on campus.

“It’s always nice to see him,” said Jana, a freshman education student. “We see each other in the hallways or in the common areas. We chat about what we’re working on and what test we’re about to take.”

“He’s helped me every step of the way and I really appreciate it,” she said. “This has opened my eyes to a whole new future for myself.”

As for Buckwalter, he says, he’s no longer hurrying to see what lies ahead. He enjoys what he’s doing and looks forward to the fall semester in St. Petersburg. In August, he married again, to Christy Hanstad. The two live in Bradenton.

“I’m kind of going with the flow. I don’t have any specifics in mind,” he said. “For now, I’m enjoying the ride and success I’m having at school.”

Ajax Building Corp. establishes scholarship for USF Sarasota-Manatee


SARASOTA, Fla. (April 28, 2015)  – Ajax Building Corporation, which for years contributed to projects across the USF System, has donated an initial $5,000 to establish a scholarship fund at USF Sarasota-Manatee.

The builder finalized its gift agreement in early April.

Officials from both USF Sarasota-Manatee and the company said it’s hoped the agreement is the first of several in coming years that will involve the Oldsmar-based builder.

“This agreement shows the commitment that Ajax Building Corporation has to this community and how important education is to building the future locally,” Dennis Stover, regional vice chancellor for university advancement, said. “I would like to thank Bill Byrne and his company for their continued support of the USF System. We look forward to a long partnership.”

Said Bill Byrne, president of Ajax: “We are looking to continue our involvement with the university, whether next year or beyond that.”

Dubbed the “Ajax Building Corporation Scholarship,” the fund will benefit students attending any of the campus’ four colleges.

Ajax has supported USF Sarasota-Manatee previously, in particular at Brunch on the Bay, the campus’ main annual fundraising event, but this new gift agreement represents Ajax’s largest commitment yet to USF Sarasota-Manatee.

“Typically, we work with our clients to basically give back to the community, and we had the opportunity recently to work with USF Sarasota-Manatee and wanted to give back to help that university location fulfill its mission to educate students,” Byrne said.

In addition to the scholarship gift, Ajax has collaborated with the USF System on several building projects. In Tampa, the company recently oversaw construction of the Morsani Center for Advanced Healthcare, the Children’s Medical Services Building and the College of Nursing Building, among others.

At USF Sarasota-Manatee, Ajax coordinated work on the Arthur M. Guilford Nature Trail as well as the pedestrian walkway along Seagate Drive. The project included replica historical lighting, banners, benches and landscaping.

The scholarship will become available to students in the next academic year.

USF Sarasota-Manatee Will Hold 63rd Commencement Ceremony Sunday, May 3


SARASOTA, Fla. (April 28, 2015) – The University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee (USFSM) will hold its spring commencement exercises at 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 3, at the Bradenton Area Convention Center, 1 Haben Blvd., Palmetto, Fla., 34221. Map here.

Of the 286 USF Sarasota-Manatee seniors who have applied to graduate at the spring 2015 commencement, 175 are expected to attend the ceremony. The 286 graduates include 33 master’s degree candidates and 253 bachelor’s degree candidates from four colleges: Arts & Sciences, Business, Education and Hospitality & Technology Leadership.

Regional Chancellor Dr. Sandra S. Stone will represent USF Sarasota-Manatee, and USF System President Dr. Judy Genshaft will preside. Dr. Bonnie Jones, assistant vice president for institutional research and effectiveness, will be the ceremony announcer. Faculty senate president Dr. Patricia Hunsader will bear the mace of the university.  Sarah Bradtmueller, student in the USFSM College of Education, will perform the National Anthem and USF Alma Mater.

Special award recipients at the ceremony include:

Golden Bull Service and Outstanding Leadership Award: Jabari Williams, College of Hospitality & Tourism Leadership, Hospitality ManagementJabariWilliams_GoldenBull

The Golden Bull Award is sponsored by the USFSM Student Government Association and is presented to a student who has demonstrated excellence in leadership activities, community and university involvement and academic success.

Jabari Williams is well known by faculty and fellow students as a diligent and exceptional student who is always willing to lend a hand. A native of Sarasota, Jabari graduated from Riverview High School and received his associate degree from Hillsboro Community College. Jabari enjoys giving back to his community, working with organizations that support children’s success and making a positive impact. He has served in numerous USFSM clubs and societies, including the Adventure Club, Black Student Union, Hospitality Society, Habitat for Humanity Campus Chapter, Matadors Softball Team, Backwater Bulls Fishing Club, and many others. He is proud of his accomplishments as a volunteer with the YMCA, the Newtown Community, NAACP Youth Council, New Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, USF College of Health Obesity Prevention Program and Horizons Academy. His hobbies include sports, cars, fishing and cooking. Jabari graduates with a Bachelor of Arts in Hospitality Management from the USFSM College of Hospitality & Tourism Leadership.

Outstanding Graduate Award: Colleen Bankuty, College of Business, AccountingColleenBankuty_OutstandingGraduate

The University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee Outstanding Graduate Award is presented at each commencement ceremony by the USF Alumni Association. This prestigious award recognizes the graduating senior who embodies leadership, school spirit, community service, character and scholarship.

The USF Alumni Association is pleased to name Colleen Bankuty as the Outstanding Graduate for spring 2015. An avid volunteer, she has served in the USFSM Accounting Society, as a Senator in the USFSM Student Government Association, and as a student-member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Colleen was the recipient of the Dean’s Certificate of Recognition for Outstanding Performance on the ETS Major Field Test in Business and is recognized as an Outstanding Student in Accounting. Colleen was featured in a recent article on emerging talent “How to Pass the Torch” by Accounting Today. Colleen’s instructors report that Colleen is a “stellar student” who has proven that dedication and hard work pay off. Colleen graduates with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from the USFSM College of Business.

Paul Searls Webecke Award: Gregory Farrenkopf, College of Business, Master of Business AdministrationWebeckeSp2015_GregoryFarrenkopf

The Webecke Award is presented to one student in the USF Sarasota-Manatee MBA program who embodies the highest principles of leadership. Established by Boar’s Head Provisions, Inc., the award honors Paul Searls Webecke, a USF Sarasota-Manatee MBA student who lost his life just prior to his graduation. Searls Webecke was an outstanding individual with qualities that extended far beyond academic excellence. The awardee who exemplifies these qualities is selected by the graduates of the current MBA cohort.

Gregory Farrenkopf, a graduate of Riverview High School, currently interns with the Manatee County Public Library System where he teaches adult computer classes and helps perform market research. Gregory is one of two inaugural graduate-level members of the USFSM chapter of Beta Gamma Sigma International Business Honor Society. After graduation he hopes to transition into a career in digital marketing and web analytics. Gregory enjoys playing the guitar and researching songs and guitar techniques. He says his hidden passion for cooking provides an opportunity to be creative and to make people happy. Gregory will graduate with a Master in Business Administration (MBA) from the USFSM College of Business.

Outstanding Professor: Dr. Elaine Augustine, Instructor, College of Arts & SciencesDr. Elaine Augustine

Honorees for the Outstanding Professor Award at USF Sarasota-Manatee share a sincere involvement with their students, passion for the university and its mission and a commitment to excellence through education. Presented by the Student Government Association on behalf of the graduating seniors, the award is the highest campus-level honor for USF Sarasota-Manatee faculty members. It recognizes exceptional accomplishments, leadership and service to the campus and community.

The spring 2015 Outstanding Professor is Dr. Elaine Augustine, an Instructor of Psychology in the College of Arts & Sciences. She received her BS in psychology from Southern University, Baton Rouge, and a PhD in developmental psychology from Indiana University. Dr. Augustine’s research examines object representation and categorization in infancy and early childhood. Dr. Augustine is passionate about teaching and has taught courses in psychological statistics, developmental psychology, language development and research methods.

For this and more, the USFSM students have recognized Dr. Augustine as this semester’s Most Outstanding Professor. This is the second time Dr. Augustine has been named USF Sarasota-Manatee’s Outstanding Professor. She also received the award in December 2013.


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 Manatee County, in North Port and online. Separately accredited, USFSM 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:

Field trips pivotal in career, study choices for biology student; dozens awarded by College of Arts & Sciences

Freshman Taylor Greenan recently completed an internship at the Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota.

Freshman Taylor Greenan recently completed an internship at the Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota.

SARASOTA, Fla. (April 27, 2015)  – Taylor Greenan was absolutely certain she wanted to become a field biologist after an elementary school trip to MarineLab, the Key Largo-based floating classroom where students learn about marine ecosystems.

Another trip years later confirmed those initial yearnings. This one, involving  STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – brought her to a hands-on summit at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee (USFSM).

“They had a lot of women speakers who were successful in business and as doctors,” the 19-year-old said. “I thought it was remarkable.”

Now a freshman at USFSM, Greenan is making the most of her time here.

She’s studying biology at USFSM’s College of Arts & Sciences and on Friday was among 10 students awarded for “Outstanding Project” during the college’s Celebration of Student Achievement at the Selby Auditorium.

Greenan was awarded for her work during a fall internship that stretched into spring at the Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota.

She studied the maternal transfer of brevetoxins in nesting sea turtles. Essentially, she pored over computer data examining levels of the toxin, a component of red tide, in blood and yolk samples from mother turtles and hatchlings that died prematurely.

She received a certificate and a medal at the ceremony from Dr. Jane Rose, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. Dozens more students were awarded in other categories.

“I was really grateful,” Greenan said of the award. “I appreciated the fact that Dr. (Justin) Perrault had written the nomination.”

Dr. Perrault, an adjunct faculty member at USF Sarasota-Manatee and a Mote researcher, said Greenan worked beyond her scheduled internship and showed initiative, even when he wasn’t present, to dive into the reams of computer data.

“The fact that she was even high enough on the list to be selected for this kind of opportunity is very rare,” Dr. Perrault said. “Usually, these internships go to juniors and seniors. So for a freshman to get this internship is rare. She was remarkable.”

Greenan, who worked at least three days a week on the project, said she hopes to become a marine biologist or veterinarian at a research lab or an environmental lawyer. Either prospect will involve years of graduate study, a task she’s willing to undertake.

From left to right, Taylor Greenan and Savannah Grimmer. Both girls made straight As every year from the first to fifth grade at Brentwood Elementary. Photo provided by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

From left to right, Taylor Greenan and Savannah Grimmer. Both girls made straight As every year from the first to fifth grade at Brentwood Elementary. Photo provided by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

On reflection, she credits her love of conservation to her parents, Jason and Jenn Greenan of Sarasota, who often took her and younger sister, Kassie, on nature hikes, fishing trips and camping.

“They taught us about conservation efforts. I know it sounds corny, but it was almost like a calling,” she said. “I could see a career in that field.”

The Celebration of Student Achievement recognized numerous other students as well. They were:

Outstanding Projects

Mackinzie Fakih, psychology

Daniel Melvin, history

Matthew Kerschner, history

Caleb Jordan, English

Christopher M. Bustin, professional & technical communication

Randy Ramos, criminology

Erin Bailey, criminology

Kathryn Sandland, interdisciplinary social sciences

Jessica Ploss, communication sciences & disorders

Taylor Greenan, biology

Notable Acceptances

Vincent Buckwalter, psychology

Jhanna Gilbert, communication sciences & disorders

Jennifer McCullough, communication sciences & disorders

Ashley Metelus, interdisciplinary social sciences

Natalie Moffett, communication sciences & disorders

Ruthann Pannebaker, communication sciences & disorders

Vanessa Perez, communication sciences & disorders

Katherine Reasor, communication sciences & disorders

Haley White, communication sciences & disorders

Erik Miller Prize for Literary Criticism

First Place: Vanessa Rennie Carroll, English

Second Place: Arthur Mugan, English

Outstanding Students, 2014-2015 (undergraduate)

Brad Boserup, biology

Heather Tsui, communication sciences & disorders

Edward Brower, criminology

Caleb Jordan, English

Lance Schneider, history

Ashley Metelus, interdisciplinary social sciences

Jacob Garfield, professional & technical communication

Jennifer Huck, psychology

Outstanding Students, 2014-2015 (graduate)

Melani Mason, criminal justice administration

Charli Maynard, social work

Barbara Bailey, ISS: gerontology

Undergraduate Research Symposium Awards

First Place Poster: Kathryn Sandland

Second Place Poster: Cassandra LaBounty

Third Place Poster: Jessica Ploss

Third Place Poster: William Kittinger

*First Place Oral Presentation: Jennifer Huck

*Second Place Oral Presentation: Ashley Metelus

Third Place Presentation: Mackinzie Fakih

Outstanding Service to Student Clubs

Criminology, Timothy Shannon

Debate Club, Jessie Cordero

English Society, Caleb Jordan

Interdisciplinary Society, Deborah Katz

National Student Speech-Language-Hearing Assn., Kristin Sanders

Psychology, Noele Adams

Students Together And Naturally Diverse (STAND), Jennifer Huck

Notable Conference Presentations

Michaela Cook, “Human trafficking: Perceiving a notorious phenomenon in society”

Sara Jones, “The association of emotional vulnerability and strength of character in highly successful people”

Massiel Monteagudo, “Cuban-American bilinguals’ emotional experiences in the place of work”

Caleb Jordan, “Total assimilation, Marxism and the Imported Bridegroom”

Jennifer Huck, “The role of a Gay Straight Alliance in the lives of LGBTQ youth”

Ashley Metelus, “Haitian-American college students’ motivations for pursuing postsecondary education: The role of parents’ low-wage occupation”

Jeanine Ashforth, “At War with Words”

Marvict Rodriguez, “Objectification of a masculine perspective in The Other Two

Gloria Drane, Samantha Frattallone, Deborah Katz, Jessica Mahon and Ashley Metelus, “One Book One Community Sarasota County,” a panel discussion on the book Orphan Train

Honor Society Inductions: Psi Chi Psychology Honor Society

Jeanine Ashforth

Vincent Buckwalter

Amanda Burns

Madison Coker

Smith Doell

Stephanie Grobleski

Dennis Metz

Nicole Pascarella

Christine Putt

Andrew Scheele

Nicole Tavernier-Luebcke

Honor Society Inductions: Sigma Tau Delta International English Honor Society

William Abel

Cara DeLoach

Casey Fountain

Jacob Garfield

Sarah Geraldson

Michael Gloff

Bobbilynn Hollifield

Arthur Mugan

Honor Society Inductions: Alpha Iota Sigma Interdisciplinary Studies Honor Society

Gloria Drane

Jessica Mahon

Megan Martinetti

Danielle McGinley

Kathryn Sandland

USF Women in Leadership and Philanthropy Endowed Scholarship

Hannah Veitkus

USF Sarasota-Manatee Women in Leadership and Philanthropy Endowed Scholarship

Priscilla Sosa

*Awarded a travel grant to present at the National Conference for Undergraduate Research.

USFSM students inducted into Beta Gamma Sigma honor society, join top business students worldwide

L to R: USFSM College of Business Dean Emeritus Dr. Robert Anderson, Nicholas Joblonski, Lauren Henry, Melissa Bontrager, Julie Rio, Alexis Brodil, Gregory Farrenkopf and USFSM College of Business Interim Dean Dr. James Curran.

L to R: USFSM College of Business Dean Emeritus Dr. Robert Anderson, Nicholas Joblonski, Lauren Henry, Melissa Bontrager, Julie Rio, Alexis Brodil, Gregory Farrenkopf and USFSM College of Business Interim Dean Dr. James Curran.

SARASOTA, Fla. (April 24, 2015)  – Thirteen USF Sarasota-Manatee College of Business students can now count themselves among the elite worldwide.

In a brief ceremony Friday at the campus’ Selby Auditorium, six were officially inducted into Beta Gamma Sigma, the prestigious international honor society for business students.

Another seven students who could not attend the ceremony were admitted as well and will receive their membership certificates later.

“It’s an honor, especially to be in the first group (from USF Sarasota-Manatee) to be accepted,” said Lauren Henry, 20, a junior who attended the ceremony with her mother, Maryl.

The induction included gold-colored lapel pins and certificates for the students.

Joining the century-old academic society meant so much more, however.

BGS members represent the top 5 percent of juniors and 10 percent of seniors enrolled in business colleges worldwide. The top 20 percent of graduate students are included as well. In short, they are the academic elite.

“BGS members have served as CEOs of many major corporations, including General Motors, General Electric, Ford Motor Company, Lowe’s, Kroger, DuPont, Travelers, most major accounting firms, investment firms and major banks,” said Celina Jozsi, a representative from the organization, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), that accredits BGS chapters.

That same association also accredited USF Sarasota-Manatee’s College of Business, securing its official standing as one of the nation’s top business schools.

Once that recognition was achieved, organizers set out to pursue creation of a BGS chapter here.

For Julie Rio, 52, a junior, acceptance into the society Friday signaled that her long, hard work in and out of the classroom had not gone unnoticed.

“I have to show the younger generation what they can do,” the grandmother and mother of four said, cradling her 10-month-old granddaughter, Clare.

Smiling, and with her daughter, Mary, 27, standing nearby, the Bradenton resident added that she was “setting the bar” for her children.

Dr. James Curran, interim dean of USF Sarasota-Manatee’s College of Business, said establishment of a BGS chapter represents the apex of a years-long accreditation effort.

AACSB accredited the College of Business in March 2014 after an exhaustive review process that at one point saw business professors from three universities visiting USF Sarasota-Manatee to pore over its business programs.

After that, it took another year to establish the BGS chapter to admit the college’s top business students.

Curran said the AACSB recognition elevates the business college’s standing worldwide and might even contribute to higher enrollment. Some employers look for BGS membership on resumes.

Beta Gamma Sigma was established in 1913 when three societies from universities in California, Illinois and Wisconsin came together to create a business college honor society.

The six USF Sarasota-Manatee students inducted into BGS Friday were:

Melissa Bontrager

Alexis Brodil

Lauren Henry

Nicholas Joblonski

Julie Rio

Gregory Farrenkopf

Those inducted, but who will receive their certificates later are:

Crystal Carpenter

Mary Pat Coughlin

Jessica Kendrick

Jesus Munoz Sanchez

Michelle Teeter

Tyler White

Elisha Evangelisto