University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee Campus



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USF Sarasota-Manatee Campus Insider August 2021

USF to honor victims, heroes of 9/11 in ceremony at USF Sarasota-Manatee campus



The University of South Florida will host a special ceremony on Friday, Sept. 10, on the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus to mark the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The ceremony will start at 8:15 a.m. with a flag-raising event and then shift to the campus courtyard. Included will be guest speakers, patriotic music, local first responders and representatives of the Armed Forces. Light refreshments will be served afterward in the Selby Auditorium.

Among the speakers will be USF Sarasota-Manatee campus Regional Chancellor Karen A. Holbrook and retired New York City firefighter Garrett C. Lindgren.

Assigned to Rescue Company 3, Lindgren was among the first responders at the World Trade Center immediately following the collapse of the north tower. Afterward, he was among the rescuers at Ground Zero from Sept. 11 to Dec. 15, 2001, and suffered career-ending injuries while searching through rubble on Dec. 15.

“This year is special because it marks 20 years since the attacks that took place on September 11th, 2001,” said Carlos Moreira, director of campus engagement for veteran success and alumni affairs. “In a time of grief, the American people came together. They offered strangers and their neighbors a helping hand and reaffirmed to one another that we were united as one, as Americans. For this reason, we will never forget the victims, their families and the heroes.”

Three days before the ceremony, on Tuesday, Sept. 7, students, staff, faculty and community members will gather at 1 p.m. in the campus courtyard to plant 2,977 small flags in honor of each of the victims who died that day.

The annual remembrance has become a tradition at the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus, located at 8350 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Previous events have included an honor guard, a bugler playing “Taps” and a children’s choir from St. Stephens Episcopal School in Bradenton, as well as military, first responders and community leaders.

Past speakers included David Kotok, chief investment officer of Cumberland Advisors, and Dan Hoffe, executive vice president of Capstan Financial Consulting Group.

Kotok escaped the World Trade Center’s south tower and witnessed American Airlines Flight 11 crash into the north tower. Likewise, Hoffe was in the south tower, and he was still inside when a second plane, United Airlines Flight 175, hit the tower. Both said the tragedy left an indelible impression.

Holbrook said she was changed as well. At the 2019 ceremony, she summed up her feelings from that day, saying: “I remember a particularly intense feeling of the need to make eye contact, to greet people in some way, to reach out, to connect with people I passed on the campus of the university where I was at the time, even people I didn’t know. All of us were together in our suffering and for the nation and for the people who suffered intolerable loss and we all understood what others were feeling as well.”

Week of Welcome kicks off fall semester

New and returning students will find a host of fun, engaging activities at the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus as the fall semester kicks off on Monday, Aug. 23.

Known as Week of Welcome, the celebration welcomes students across USF to the start of a new semester. At the Sarasota-Manatee campus, the events get underway with students being welcomed to a Bradenton Marauder’s game on Saturday, Aug. 21, at LECOM Park in Bradenton. That will be followed by a virtual #HowToCollege session on Sunday, Aug. 22, for students who are new to USF.

Several other events are planned as well during Week of Welcome. The schedule will be posted online at once the events have been confirmed.

USF makes upgrades to Sarasota-Manatee campus

USF Sarasota-Manatee campus students will enjoy a more engaging campus experience when they return for the start of fall classes on Aug. 23 thanks to a wide range of upgrades over the past year and a half.

Working with senior leadership, facilities staff oversaw a number of improvements, including a new Student Services area, remodeled second-floor “mini-rotunda” study space and upgrades to the Selby Auditorium. The stairwells near the rotunda were improved as well with new windows to allow more light.

“If you’re a returning student you’re going to see a more modernized campus and a brighter space,” said Daniel LaForge, director of facilities planning and management at Sarasota-Manatee. “If you are a new student coming to the campus for the first time, you will see a welcoming and engaging educational environment.”

Campus improvements are typical during summer breaks and between semesters. Because most classes and on-campus activities were shifted online or cancelled during the past 18 months due to COVID-19, facilities staff were able to implement an array of changes that had been approved and were already in the pipeline.

Among other improvements, work crews painted the campus building, added new landscaping and expanded the third-floor conference room to allow for more productive meeting presentations. The Selby Auditorium received a facelift and technology upgrades, and the wooden paneling was removed and the carpet replaced to create a brighter feel.

Of all the changes, the improvements to Student Services clearly stand out. The area off the main entrance is being updated and expanded to create a more engaging student experience, LaForge said.

On track to open in mid-September, the space is being expanded to include five student conference rooms and a central meeting space. The design was created with students in mind to encourage collaborative study and more socialization, Laforge said.

“This was something that was especially important to senior leadership, to create additional space on campus where students can study, meet and work together,” he said.

Teeranai Ovathanasin, assistant regional vice chancellor for student success, said that “the student experience” served as the inspiration for many of the changes. As students enter the main building to register for classes or speak with an advisor they will be escorted from the welcome desk to the appropriate staff member. This will be helpful to new students while also making them feel at home.

“It was very important that when we made these changes to keep in mind how they will impact students and the student experience,” Ovathanasin said. “All of these changes are about creating an engaging and dynamic student experience at the Sarasota-Manatee campus.”

USF, Ringling College students collaborate to study, preserve tortoise habitat at USF Sarasota-Manatee campus


Edie Banner

Students from the University of South Florida and Ringling College of Art and Design found an unusual way to spend their summer break, supporting a gopher tortoise habitat on the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus.

The students – USF biology majors Ryan Sampson, Yaritza Vargas and Milena Nesic and Ringling photography major Tammy-Mariah Gill – joined adjunct instructor Edie Banner for 20 hours each week to photograph and study the six-acre site. The Cross College Alliance funded the internship program through the Environmental Discovery Awards.

“This is the best way I could think of spending my summer,” Gill, a senior, said. “I like to photograph and study the biodiversity of the area, the insects, plant life and small animals. It’s interesting that all of this biodiversity lives in one small place here.”


Milena Nesic

Gopher tortoises are threatened in Florida. They prefer sandy upland areas, feeding on low-lying shrubs, leaves, flowers, cacti and grasses; the greenery supplies their water needs as well.

It turns out, the USF campus provides an ideal environment for the tortoises, whose burrows can run 30 feet deep and house insects and other small animals. Footage from wildlife cameras has shown foxes, snakes, mice and other creatures living amidst and within the burrows.

“I love to learn, and I love being here to see all the different elements of this ecosystem and how they’re interconnected,” said Nesic. “I like to see that balance.”

In addition to documenting the site, the students helped improve the ecosystem’s overall health by removing dead and nuisance plants so that foliage important to the tortoises’ diet can flourish.

Banner volunteers to monitor the area, which also serves as an outdoor laboratory for the students, who can earn credit for their field work or volunteer to monitor and maintain the site as a member of her “Tortoise Team.”

“We’ve seen hatchlings so we know the tortoises are breeding and their habitat is healthy,” Banner said.

The program was credited and ran eight weeks. The final class wrapped up on July 23.

Campus alum Oest wins “25 Under 25” Award


Bill Mariotti, Lukas Oest and Anila Jain

University of South Florida alum Lukas Oest, the Spring 2019 Outstanding Graduate for the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus, has earned another USF-related accolade: He’s been named winner of a Muma College of Business “25 Under 25” Award.

“This means a lot to me,” said Oest, a master’s degree student at Muma. “I had heard about the award years ago when I was an undergrad, and now, three years later, I’m part of the roster for this year.”

Oest was among the recipients during an Aug. 5 Muma awards event at Busch Gardens in Tampa. He currently works as the marketing manager at Bradenton-based Florida Worldwide Citrus, a position he was named to shortly after graduation.

Oest said he submitted his application for the 25 Under 25 Award at the urging of Anand Kumar, a professor in the School of Marketing and Innovation. The awards program recognizes both undergraduate and graduate students from all USF campuses who have demonstrated success in at least two of four categories: academics, leadership, professional development and campus/community service.

To be selected for the program, students submit an essay, résumé and, in some cases, reference letters or other documents to verify that they’ve served their community well. 

A German immigrant, Oest came to the United States as an international student in 2013, eventually enrolling at the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus where he distinguished himself for academic excellence and his support of the university. He once gave a TEDx talk at the campus, recalling his experiences adjusting to the United States. Recently, he has worked to increase the visibility of Muma’s masters in marketing program to potential students.

As for the future?

“I see myself long-term at Florida Worldwide Citrus,” Oest said. “The company has shown me tremendous support and I am excited to be a part of the long-term vision of the company.”

USF Sarasota-Manatee campus holds immersion experience, mock trial for high school students

Local high school students learned about criminal behavior and the justice system while also participating in a mock trial as part of a new University of South Florida pre-college summer course at the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus.

The credited four-week program, “Full Court: Intro to Law, Crime and Trials,” was held virtually and offered students, including from outside Florida, a college immersion experience with lectures and weekly guest-speaker panels. The Judy Genshaft Honors College and criminology professor Fawn Ngo, who teaches on USF Sarasota-Manatee campus, organized the sessions.

Students learned theories of criminal behavior and heard from a panel of law students and practicing attorneys before preparing for and holding a mock criminal trial on Aug. 4, during the program’s final week.

Olivia Sutton

Olivia Sutton

“The program was a major success,” said Cayla Lanier, campus director for the Judy Genshaft Honors College on the Sarasota-Manatee campus. “Our students were deeply engaged with the material and left the program feeling more sure of themselves and with a clearer picture of their future plans, which for many, includes USF.”

Lanier said the program resulted after a conversation with Ngo. Ngo’s daughter had attended a mock trial camp and two of Lanier’s honors students hold national titles for speech and debate, coached by their mother and local attorney, Maria Gerber. At the same time, Lanier was looking to strengthen ties with Stetson Law School while introducing the honors college to the community.

Ngo said she was delighted to interact with the students, of whom many were contemplating law school. Thirteen students participated in the program.

“I was so impressed with how well the students prepared for the virtual lectures and mock trial exhibition,” Ngo said. “It was a joy working with them and to be part of their academic journey. This is why I do what I do.”

Many students said they sessions helped them better understand the requirements and challenges of a law career. One student, Olivia Sutton, said she’s hoping to attend USF before entering law school.

“I’ve been exploring several different fields and I like the different majors at USF and the diversity of the campus,” said Sutton, a sophomore at Sunlake High School in Land O’ Lakes. “The class kind of heightened my desire to practice law. It was really interesting and I liked working with the other students.”

The mock trial stood out as the students assumed roles of prosecuting and defense attorney, witnesses and forensics experts. The “case” involved the murder of a manufacturing executive by a man who blamed the company for his wife’s cancer death.


Aditi Dhruve

Aditi Dhruve, a senior at Wiregrass Ranch High School in Wesley Chapel, said she’s long been interested in law but, until the USF program, she was unsure who to ask to learn more about the profession. She said she’d recommend the class to anyone interested in a legal career.

“These are full college lectures of two or three hours each, but the material is really engaging and if you pay attention and stay engaged with it, you will really get a lot out of it,” she said. “I really enjoyed the program, and it answered a lot of my questions about the legal field and getting into law school.”

Lanier and Ngo are hoping to create a similar course next summer.

USF professor addresses Dramatists Guild about ageism

USF English Professor Valerie Lipscomb recently stepped out of the classroom to address playwrights from across the United States during a special Zoom conference organized by the Dramatists Guild, the national trade association for playwrights, composers, lyricists and librettists.

Lipscomb, whose scholarship focuses on ageism in theater, conducted an hour-long workshop for about 150 members of the New York City-based guild during “Unsafe @ Any Age: Creative Aging in the American Theatre.” The online session, held July 31, featured several guest speakers, including Lipscomb, who presented research connected to her book, “Performing Age in Modern Drama,” and then fielded questions.

“It was very exciting and an honor to address the Guild about representations of age in drama,” said Lipscomb, who has taught on the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus since 2006. “It’s one thing to talk about ageism in plays to a group of professors or students. It’s quite another to talk to the people who write the plays.”

Ageism has long affected American theater, from older actors who struggle to land parts to playwrights who compete with younger “avant-garde” writers for production support. The theater tends to favor “the next big thing,” and often that is misconstrued to mean younger, Lipscomb said.

And it’s not just in the theater. Society as a whole seems to skew toward the young, from hiring managers who support younger job applicants to ageist jokes about “senior moments” and “boomers.”

“We all start out young, on the privileged end of things, but then we move from a place of privilege to experience a great deal of ageism,” she said. “The attitude reflected in most plays is that the prime of life runs from 20 to about age 60. After that, you can be treated as if you are irrelevant.”

Lipscomb urged the writers to question preconceptions about the last third of life being a period of infirmity and decay and to think more about “the fullness of stories all along the life course.”

Lipscomb, a professor of English and associate department chair, teaches American and modern British literature in the College of Arts & Sciences.

USF Sarasota-Manatee campus staff discuss dual-enrollment growth at registrars’ conference

The University of South Florida’s Office of Early University Programs (EUP) connects high-achieving high school students to a variety of academic programs at USF to help them get a head start on completing the requirements for a college degree. 

Eligible students have the opportunity to enroll in courses at USF while they are still in high school, earning credits toward their college degrees, thus saving time and money.

Based on the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus, the EUP’s programs, which include the popular Dual Enrollment Program, have experienced a significant increase in student participation since the office was created in the summer of 2019 under the leadership of Brett Kemker, vice provost and regional vice chancellor for academic affairs and student success. 

In its first year, more than 200 high school students enrolled in dual enrollment courses. That increased to more than 600 students last year as Associate Professor Jane Rose managed the program. This year, more than 700 students are expected to participate as students begin the 2021-2022 academic year and Deborah Stevens takes over as the program’s director.

Earlier this summer, Glenna Schubert, assistant university registrar based at the Sarasota-Manatee campus, and Early University Programs Coordinator Brandon Avery, shared their insights during a Zoom virtual session as part of the Florida Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers annual summit.

Schubert, Avery and Darryl Waddy, coordinator of early university programs and academic program specialist in the College of Arts & Sciences at the Sarasota-Manatee campus, provided personalized service for each of the students enrolled in the program as well as their parents.  This was especially important when USF switched to remote delivery of courses in March of 2020 due to COVID-19.

“I’m glad we were able to contribute to the summit and share our successes that we experienced during the pandemic, which is evidenced by the program’s growth from approximately 200 students to more than 600 in less than two years,” Schubert said

“It was a great opportunity to showcase a really positive effort and outcome by USF, and particularly the Sarasota-Manatee campus, that occurred during COVID. I’m really proud of what this team was able to accomplish,” she said.

For more information about enrolling in USF’s Early University Programs, including Dual Enrollment, please contact Stevens at

USF professor looks at progress of Age-Friendly communities in new article

USF Professor of Aging Studies Kathy Black explores the accomplishments of age-friendly communities in Assessing Age-Friendly Community Progress: What Have We Learned?, published in the April 19 issue of “The Gerontologist.”

The article, co-written with Patricia Oh of the University of Maine Center on Aging, Bangor, examines U.S. communities that joined the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities by end of 2015.

The researchers assess age-friendly activities across a range of measures that address structure, processes and outcomes. According to Black, it was not an easy task with reports ranging from just a few pages to more than 100 and varying numbers of activities reported by the communities.

In a broad sense, age-friendly communities enact policies and practices to help people live healthy, active and engaged lives across their lifespans. That could mean, among other things, removing physical barriers, improving mobility and adding programs to allow for greater social interaction.

Black and Oh spent more than a year examining progress reports submitted to the WHO and AARP. The researchers found many positive steps taken by the communities, including in areas of leadership and governance, harnessing resources and in multi-sector collaboration, as well as in reported provisions, such as developing a pedestrian trail.

“The intention of the movement is to improve community life, which requires measurement of change,” Black said.

However, the two also found room for improvement. For example, the analysis revealed relatively weak performance in the monitoring and reporting of evaluative findings.

“It’s important to remember that the age-friendly journey is a process of continuous improvement, and it can take time to achieve results,” she said.

USF professors release fourth edition of their ESOL book

USF College of Education instructors Jane Govoni and Cindy Lovell have released a fourth edition of their popular college textbook “Preparing the Way: Teaching ELs in the Pre-K—12 Classroom” (Kendall Hunt).

The book, a teacher-preparation guide for ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages), came out last month after previously being updated in 2017. The authors, instructors at the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus, said they wanted the new edition to reflect recent social changes and advances in scholarship.

“Much has changed in the past five years with regard to social and cultural norms and not just on college campuses but across the country,” said Lovell, an adjunct who first teamed up with Govoni for the book’s first edition in 2010.

They say scholarship around ESOL has grown much the past 10 years, and that while English learners constitute the fastest-growing population in U.S. schools, there remains insufficient ESOL training for teachers.

The book focuses on five key areas: ESOL federal and state legislation; cultural proficiency, diversity and equity; fundamentals of applied linguistics; theories of second language learning; and ESOL testing and evaluation.

Each chapter has been updated and 65 “activity” pages, or teaching scenarios, added to further prepare the future ESOL teachers. Govoni and Lovell said they’re already hearing positive feedback about their work, which took a year to complete.

“This edition is succinctly written for pre-service and classroom teachers to reflect on second language theory and research in a hands-on, practical way to support students from diverse backgrounds and at varied English proficiency levels,” Govoni said. “Dr. Nutta really says it all in her review: ‘The book is very reader friendly, with a structure that allows for finding facts and resources easily and graphics that reflect the book’s message of comprehensible instruction for all students.’ Educators will find strategies, activities, and resources to support good teaching.”

Instructors who want to use the book in their classrooms can request a desk copy from the publisher. Visit

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