The University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee campus marked another year of outstanding faculty and student achievements in 2020, despite a host of issues ranging from the COVID-19 pandemic to the challenges and opportunities associated with the consolidation of USF’s campuses.
Here are the top 12 USF Sarasota-Manatee campus stories of the year, in chronological order:
The USF Sarasota-Manatee campus kicked off 2020 in high style with an eye toward the future: A capacity crowd welcomed the grand opening of the USF Health College of Nursing Skills Lab to support its new Accelerated Second Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree program. Designed for students who already have earned a bachelor’s degree, USF’s Accelerated Second Degree major offers a pathway for students to earn a nursing degree through an intensive four-semester, 16-month program.
The campus opened a food pantry in mid-March at the onset of COVID-19 pandemic to address food insecurity among some students. Initially scheduled to open later in the year, the pantry debuted as businesses began to close in response to the pandemic, affecting many students. The “Support-A-Bull Pantry” continues to be sustained by campus donations and Sarasota-based All Faiths Food Bank.
As Florida’s public colleges and universities, including USF, shifted to remote learning after Spring Break, the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus was among those providing a smooth transition to online classes. Led by Timi Hager, the E-Learning Services team not only completed necessary technical adjustments, but also provided practical training to prepare faculty and adjunct instructors to lead the classes.
Employers praised a consulting program launched early in the year to support local businesses and prepare students for the workplace. The Student Consulting course, led by Greg Smogard, assistant vice president for innovation and business development at the campus, matched senior-level students with local companies and nonprofits to offer analysis and assistance with special projects under faculty supervision. The business partners included Bank of America, Sarasota-based Omeza and the nonprofit Boys and Girls Clubs of Manatee County.
The USF Sarasota-Manatee campus found creative ways to engage with the community amid the pandemic. The Florida Center for Partnerships in Arts-Integrated Teaching (PAInT), which is based at the campus, collaborated with arts groups to make arts-themed videos available to parents and children online during the summer recess. Denise Davis-Cotton, director of PAInT, produced several of the free videos to encourage children, parents and grandparents to engage in creative summer projects. The videos are available at: http://maecarts.org/programs/family-arts-connection/.
USF’s Summer Grant Writing Workshops proved popular with faculty and students as more than 350 signed up for the eight-week online program, more than twice the number last year. Sandra Justice, director of the Office of Research at the Sarasota-Manatee campus, oversaw the twice-weekly sessions to guide researchers through the application process and develop competitive proposals.
USF was pleased to welcome the USF Federal Credit Union as title sponsor of Brunch on the Bay for the next three years. This year’s Brunch was postponed to Nov. 7, 2021, due to the pandemic. A popular communitywide event, Brunch on the Bay offers attendees exquisite cuisine, wonderful fellowship and an opportunity to invest in the future of the region by supporting student scholarships. In addition, Elizabeth Moore will serve as chairperson of the 2021 Brunch.
USF officially began operating under a single accreditation for the Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee campuses effective July 1. The Sarasota-Manatee campus had been separately accredited since 2011. It opened during the 1974-75 academic year under a single USF accreditation.
Business professor Jean D. Kabongo was named the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus dean for the USF Muma College of Business. Kabongo, a professor of strategic management and entrepreneurship, joined the campus faculty as an assistant professor in 2010. He has been named “Outstanding Professor” several times by Sarasota-Manatee business students.
USF finished July with a momentous announcement: Its School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, within the Muma College of Business, was awarded professional and academic accreditation from the Accreditation Commission of Programs in Hospitality Administration. This separate and unique accreditation officially acknowledged the high academic and professional standards achieved by the school and affirmed its standing among elite hospitality programs nationwide.
USF welcomed Lisa Carlton, Diana Michel and Ernie Withers to the Sarasota-Manatee Campus Advisory Board during its fall meeting in October. Board member Dr. Anila Jain, a distinguished alumna and longtime USF supporter, also began a new four-year term.
The School of Hospitality and Tourism Management launched an important initiative in November to aid struggling hotels and restaurants: a free certificate program to help them navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and prepare for the post-pandemic environment. The Post-Crisis Hospitality Management Certificate program consisted of seven free classes to run through Dec. 18. The weekly classes have attracted more than 6,000 participants worldwide. To learn more about the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus, visit www.sarasotamanatee.usf.edu.