Dr. Laurey Stryker

Dr. Laurey Stryker came to USF Sarasota-Manatee with a mandate.

“(USF System President) Dr. Judy Genshaft told me to grow the campus. Grow programs that meet the community’s needs and attract talented faculty,” recalled the former USFSM chief executive officer (2000-2007).

She did just that. When Dr. Stryker arrived, USFSM was separating from New College. The campus employed just 12 full-time faculty; most instructors worked part time or served as adjuncts. By the time she retired in 2007, the university had increased to 39 programs, 50 full-time faculty and had a campus it could call its own. One of the first programs added was a School of Hotel and Restaurant Management, forerunner to today’s College of Hospitality & Tourism Leadership.

However, historians will mark the building of the new campus, itself, as a “defining moment” for USFSM – as well as for Dr. Stryker. Lawmakers including state Sens. Bob Johnson and Lisa Carlton and Reps. Nancy Detert and Bill Galvano championed funding efforts at the legislative level. With help from John Clarke, chief executive officer of Schroeder-Manatee Ranch Inc., the USFSM Campus Board led by Jan Smith raised $8 million to add to the $23.3 million in state funds to support the project.

“It’s rare to be at the center of such a game-changing opportunity that will forever influence the region,” Dr. Stryker said. “It was a joyful privilege.”

Brunch on the Bay, the annual fundraiser begun 10 years earlier, was another project that flourished under Dr. Stryker. Determined to raise greater scholarship amounts from the event, she pushed to expand its sponsorship revenue from $30,000 to $150,000, transforming the Brunch into one of the area’s premier fundraisers.