University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee Campus



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USF Giving Week kicks off, support urged for scholarship, fund to help nursing students

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USF Giving Week kicks off today through April 9, and there’s no better time to support college scholarships and programs than now as students look to continue their studies amidst the financial hardships caused by COVID-19.

Two funds in particular are making a lasting and important difference:

• Phillip D. King Scholarship in Memory of Betty Schoenbaum
• The USFSM Nursing Fund (#SN0002)

The two funds benefit students enrolled in the College of Nursing’s Accelerated Second Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree program based at the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus.

Designed for students who hold a bachelor’s degree, the accelerated second-degree program provides a pathway for students who want to earn a nursing degree through an intensive four-semester, 16-month program.

By supporting these funds, donors are helping their community by enabling more skilled, college-educated nurses to fill vacancies at local hospitals, clinics and medical offices.

Visit from April 5 to April 9 to support the Phillip D. King Scholarship in Memory of Betty Schoenbaum and visit to support the USF Sarasota-Manatee Nursing Fund, or go to the Giving Week website to make your gift to a campus, college, unit or cause that you are passionate about.

A virtual event, Giving Week is a once-a-year opportunity for USF’s friends, faculty, staff and alumni worldwide to support USF students. It’s also a chance for donors to support scholarships they cherish most and for the university’s campuses to emphasize programs of special importance to their students.

The USF Sarasota-Manatee Nursing Fund and Phillip D. King Scholarship in Memory of Betty Schoenbaum are both vitally important because they address an immediate and critical issue locally and statewide: the persistent need for skilled, college-educated nurses.

“Many of our motivated and talented accelerated nursing students are juggling various responsibilities, including those to their families. Awards such as the USF Sarasota-Manatee Nursing Fund and the Phillip D. King Scholarship provide a vital source of support that allows these students to continue their studies and transform into exceptional nurses focused on delivering high-quality, evidence-based practice care,” said Natasha Zurcher, accelerated pathway director. 

The program is already proving successful. Despite challenges from COVID-19, the program’s 30 students – who began their studies in January 2020 – are all on track to graduate together next month. And now, USF is welcoming a new, larger cohort of 40 nursing students, who began their studies this past January.

Visit to learn how to support these funds.

Campus talk to highlight Diversity Month

The USF Sarasota-Manatee campus will hold an online discussion about women in leadership and the roles of race, culture and other factors as part of Celebrate Diversity Month in April.

The discussion, scheduled for April 22 at 2 p.m., will feature a panel of noted women educators, including campus Regional Chancellor Karen A. Holbrook; Professor Marie Byrd, interim campus director, College of Education; Professor Sandra Stone, assistant dean, graduate studies; and Associate Professor Fawn Ngo, campus chair, College of Behavioral and Community Sciences.

The women will reflect on their experiences, offer advice and delve into challenges, conflict resolution and the role of culture and race in leadership. A Q&A session will follow.

Contact Graduate Assistant Hawa Allarakhia,, for a link to attend the discussion.

Diversity Month has been celebrated nationally since 2004. Its importance in spotlighting the need for greater acceptance of all races, ethnicities, cultures, religions, genders and sexual orientations can’t be underestimated, especially given recent events that highlight racism and inequity in America, says campus Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer Corey Posey.

“It’s important that we acknowledge a shared responsibility, a shared responsibility to move these conversations about diversity forward, and Diversity Month helps to remind us of this responsibility and, hopefully, to encourage us to engage in these conversations as a community,” Posey said. “It’s important for us to get out of our comfort zones to have these courageous conversations.”

USF preparing for in-person classes this fall

Last month, USF President Steve Currall announced that USF is preparing for a return to in-person classes in Fall 2021. Read his letter to faculty, staff and students here.

Research Week starts, offers students an opportunity to shine, advance careers

University of South Florida students can learn more about research, one-on-one collaboration with faculty members and the benefits of research to their career and graduate school plans during this week’s USF Research Week, from April 5 to April 9.

research week

Research Week starts today, April 5

The unique program, open to students, staff and faculty across USF’s three campuses, features a range of workshops, including how to conduct research, have research published in an academic journal and how to turn research into a product or company, along with other insightful how-to clinics.

All of the activities will be held virtually, including the program’s signature events: the Undergraduate Research Conference on April 6 and the Graduate Student Research Symposium on April 9, which enable students to spotlight and explain their work to an audience of faculty, staff and other students.

Participants will use posters, displayed in a virtual format, to walk conference attendees through their projects, from hypothesis to methodology and findings. A panel of faculty experts will judge the presentations. Winners will receive certificates.

The largest of the showcase events, for undergraduate student researchers, has 188 presenters scheduled. In many cases, the students have worked for months under faculty supervision, and after the conference some of the projects may be featured in their admissions applications to graduate school or later as part of their career.

“Mentored by our highly accomplished faculty, student researchers learn to critically examine, test and innovate,” said Sandra Justice, associate director of Research & Innovation at USF who oversees research support at the Sarasota-Manatee campus. “Research Week is a fun and engaging way for students to present their projects and to gain well-earned recognition.”

Justice is working with Kim Badanich, a level-three instructor in the Department of Psychology, and other staff and faculty across USF, to organize the Research Week program.

“Conducting and presenting research at the undergraduate level is an invaluable experience for students as they look to attain employable skills, including critical thinking and proficiency in analysis and communication,” said Badanich, who teaches at the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus and earned her doctorate in behavioral neuroscience from USF in 2008. “All of these skills are taught through the research process as students work alongside faculty mentors, and they are on exhibit when the students present their findings at the conference.”

USF’s campuses have held student research conferences for years, but this marks the first year in which the events will occur together as part of a single week of research-themed workshops and other activities.

“I would most definitely recommend this program to other students,” said Nicole Ritenour, a senior majoring in psychology who has presented twice before at research events at the Sarasota-Manatee campus. “In my opinion, students should inquire about research opportunities early in their undergraduate studies because every aspect of these experiences is positive. The knowledge gained and skills learned will be carried with you throughout your life and career.” 

Students, staff and faculty are urged to attend the workshop and conference events. 

“The most common feedback I receive from students after presenting at our research conference is that the experience left them feeling much more confident, both as a student and as a researcher,” Badanich said. “Participating in a conference motivates students to do more and to go further with their research, including as graduate students and later during their careers.”

Visit here for more information about Research Week and links to each day’s programs.

Regional Chancellor Holbrook recognized for promoting the arts

USF Sarasota-Manatee campus Regional Chancellor Karen Holbrook was awarded the Dr. Larry Thompson Arts Education Advancement Award on March 29 during the second annual Arts Alive Celebration at the Grove Ballroom in Lakewood Ranch.

The event, sponsored by the Manatee Arts Education Council, in partnership with the School District of Manatee County and the Manatee Education Foundation, showcased students in music, dance, theater, visual and new media and acknowledged local artists, educators and others who support the arts in Manatee County.

holbrook and thompson

Karen Holbrook and Larry Thompson

The Thompson Award is named for the president of the Ringling College of Art and Design. Holbrook was recognized based on her support of the arts in education.

Thompson presented her with the award, saying, “Dr. Holbrook is a gifted scientist and medical professional. As a focused educational leader, she espouses a deep level of appreciation for the intrinsic value of the arts as part of a whole education that leads to careers in arts and non-arts-related industries.”

The USF Sarasota-Manatee campus is home to the Florida Center for Partnerships for Arts Integrated Teaching (PAInT), led by Denise Davis-Cotton. PAInT sponsors a range of creative programming to support arts-integrated education, from professional development of teachers to summer camps for local children, among other community outreach events.

The campus also has hosted the Perlman Music Program’s Winter Residency program for the past decade. Held in late December during the campus’ winter break, the residency program enables talented young musicians from across the world to study under internationally renowned violinist and conductor Itzhak Perlman.

Davis-Cotton, who nominated Holbrook for the award, said, “When you have an advocate for the arts, you have an advocate for life. Dr. Holbrook has certainly been an advocate for the arts in our region and the PAInT program because she understands how the arts can transform lives. She is truly deserving of this award.”

The Arts Alive event was initially scheduled for March 2020, but was delayed because of COVID-19.

In 2019, Holbrook was named recipient of the national Arts Schools Network (ASN) Higher Education Award. The ASN Higher Education Award recognizes higher education partnerships that support quality arts education in K-12 schools.

USF students learn secrets of top security pros at special weeklong training

Two USF students joined U.S. Secret Service agents and other top security professionals at a recent training by Washington, D.C.,-based Security Management International (SMI).

The students, Elizabeth Kemker and George Koulianos, learned about the CARVER (Criticality, Accessibility, Recoverability, Vulnerability, Effect and Recognizability) methodology created by the CIA in the 1970s and used by Homeland Security and the U.S. intelligence community to assess security risks.

koulianos and kemker

Leo Labaj, George Koulianos and Elizabeth Kemker

“The CARVER course is a unique training involving mock exercises and detailed classroom instruction from some of the best qualified professionals in the security and intelligence field,” said Kemker, a sophomore majoring in criminology at the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus. “It was an incredibly informative experience and one that I highly recommend to anyone hoping to enter the field or already working in it.”

Kemker and Koulianos, an interdisciplinary global studies major, attended the weeklong training at the invitation of SMI Managing Director Luke Bencie, who waived the students’ tuition.

The students received Certified CARVER Assessment Professional (CCAP) designations after completing the course. Koulianos said he appreciated working alongside veteran intelligence professionals.

“The CARVER training course gives you the perfect teaching and tools to fully understand threat analysis and vulnerability assessments,” he said. “Without CARVER, my understanding of intelligence would be limited. A great course with great teachers.” 

Bencie is a former intelligence officer and the author of “The CARVER Target Analysis and Vulnerability Assessment Methodology.” His business advises Fortune 500 companies, defense contractors and government agencies globally.

SMI has hosted several USF interns over the years, including Kemker, who plans to attend law school after graduation.

“We have been continually impressed by the caliber of USF students who have attended our CARVER courses,” said Bencie. “It can be a bit risky to include undergraduate students into a training course that is meant for veteran government agents and other experienced security professionals. There is concern that the class might be slowed due to overly basic questions from the undergrads. However, with the students from USF this has never been an issue. They have all demonstrated a high-level of maturity, preparedness and overall intelligence to participate in sophisticated training programs, such as CARVER. Kudos to Elizabeth and George.”

USF, Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association webinar to explore COVID-19 impact on food safety

The University of South Florida M3 Center for Innovation and Technology and the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association (FRLA) will present a virtual panel discussion, “Planning for the Future: How COVID-19 Will Alter the Food Safety Landscape,” on Wednesday, April 7, at noon.

The online discussion will feature industry experts Carol Dover, president of the FRLA; John Horne, owner of the Anna Maria Oyster Bar; Jenny Krueger, restaurant operations consultant at food service distributor USFoods; and Chris Tomasso, chief executive officer of First Watch Restaurants.

Joe Askren, an instructor in USF’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management in the Muma College of Business, will moderate the discussion.

“We are looking forward to hearing from our restaurant and food service industry partners regarding the current COVID climate,” Askren said. “I know they will have a lot to share with us and are eager to discuss their best practices that have kept them going through the extremely challenging past 12 months.”

The webinar is offered at no cost. Register by visiting

USF introduces online options, accelerated one-year master’s degree in hospitality

The University of South Florida Muma College of Business is now offering online course options plus an accelerated one-year program to help international students and those with busy schedules earn a master’s degree in hospitality management.

The changes, some of which began this semester, will enable students to attend classes in person, stream lectures through live video conferencing or view recorded sessions to keep up with classes.

Additionally, hospitality management students enrolling for the fall term can opt for a traditional two-year master’s degree program or a new accelerated one-year program.

“All of these changes are about providing flexibility to our students,” hospitality Professor Cihan Cobanoglu said. “We recognize that students are busy and that sometimes it’s difficult to juggle school, work and family obligations. These changes are designed to help students find a clearer path to advance their career.”

Changes to traditional in-person instruction began in spring 2020 when colleges and universities nationwide turned to online course delivery in response to COVID-19. As some in-person classes resumed this year at USF, accompanied by physical distancing and other protocols, the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, which is part of the Muma College of Business, began offering a mix of in-person and online classes to provide greater flexibility to busy students.

“We saw that this hybrid approach could be especially helpful to international students who are constricted by time-zone differences and to local students who work and might have a difficult time getting to campus,” said Assistant Professor Trishna G. Mistry, who teaches a master’s degree class in human resources management. “Plus, for students who prefer to attend classes in person, they can continue to do that as well.”

Mistry teaches day and evening classes on the Tampa campus as well as on the Sarasota-Manatee campus, where the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management is based. The hospitality master’s program is offered on all three of the university’s campuses.

While her daytime lectures remain popular with local, traditional students, her evening classes draw a mix of international students and those who work locally during the day.

About half of her students attend class through live video conferencing, which allows the students to ask questions, engage in discussions and take quizzes. Students who miss a lecture can go online to view a recorded session or retrieve assignments, tests and other materials.

Like the hybrid instructional methods, the accelerated, one-year master’s program represents another option for busy students. Classes are offered through the fall, spring and summer.

“And if students prefer the other option, the traditional two-year, in-person degree program, they can choose that one,” he said. “This is about providing options to students and helping students to move forward in their careers.”

For more about the master’s degree in hospitality management, visit

USF to host mock trial, immersion experience for high school students interested in law school

The University of South Florida is offering a new summer program – a criminology-immersion experience capped by a mock trial – to help high school students explore careers in law and criminal justice.

The virtual four-week program, “Full Court: Intro to Law, Crime and Trials,” will teach students about the legal system, the role of judges, attorneys, expert witnesses and law enforcement and how to get accepted into law school.

The program runs from July 12 to Aug. 6. Registration is now open.

Visit to register and learn more.

Scholarship opportunities are available to defray costs. Applicants will receive a confirmation email with a link to apply for a scholarship.

“This program is designed to help students broaden their knowledge base and explore college and career options while making new friends and having fun,” said Fawn Ngo, associate professor of criminology at the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus. “The program is especially beneficial to first-generation and minority students who do not know anyone in the legal profession because it provides them with the opportunity to find mentors.”

The university’s criminology department is working with the Judy Genshaft Honors College, Stetson University College of Law and local attorneys to create the immersion experience and mock trial. The program will be held virtually due to COVID-19. 

Students will learn about the legal system and criminal behavior – why people commit crimes – and have an opportunity to ask attorneys and students enrolled at Stetson about law school and the legal profession.

They’ll also engage in a roundtable discussion to explore strategies to get accepted into law school, which can be highly competitive, and hear from current and former USF students, including members of a USF debate team.

During the program’s final week, students will participate in a mock trial, the program’s highlight.

Dividing into teams, students will take on the roles of defendant, defense attorney, prosecuting attorney and expert witness, among others, as they “prepare for trial.” The teams will comb through evidence, examine witness statements, interview witnesses and formulate arguments as the trial date approaches on the final day of class.

“One of the special aspects of this program is the multi-level mentoring opportunities that are available,” said Cayla Lanier, campus director of the honors college at the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus. “Participants will connect with and learn from their peers, as well as current college students, law school students and practicing attorneys, not to mention university faculty. Those who choose to enroll at USF after high school will already have strong connections to the campus from day one.”

Immersion experiences and mock trials are gaining popularity as colleges and universities seek to address students’ questions about law school, the legal profession and careers in criminal justice.

Ngo said her daughter came away from a session two years ago impressed by how much she learned about law and the strategies for entering law school. In addition, immersion experiences can help students assess careers and learn whether the legal profession is right for them.

“Most students tend to have a one-dimensional view of the law,” Ngo said. “I hope that by the end of the program, they leave understanding the options available to them in the legal field.” 

The priority application deadline is March 15, and the final day to register is May 3. Visit

USF Muma College of Business launches cybersecurity major at USF Sarasota-Manatee campus

The University of South Florida is offering a new major that provides students a potential pathway to high-paying careers in cybersecurity.

The Information Assurance and Cybersecurity Management (IACM) program, which is hosted at the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus, is a unique major in the Muma College of Business that combines core courses in business with information assurance, cybersecurity management and analytics.

Students in the major attain valuable in-depth skills to work at an array of companies and large corporations, nonprofit organizations, government agencies and institutions.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, information security analysts earn a media salary of $99,730 per year, and the number of jobs is expected to grow 31 percent from 2019 to 2029, far outpacing most other professions.

“Many organization’s cybersecurity teams continue to struggle with a cyber communication disconnect between senior management and technical cybersecurity personnel,” said Information Technology Professor Giti Javidi, who oversees the major.

“The IACM degree originated with the notion that organizations need cybersecurity experts who have technical and non-technical skills to bridge this gap in communication,” she said. “The degree assumes that cybersecurity management is a business function. Therefore, graduates with an IACM degree will gain vast knowledge and skills in both business and cybersecurity to be the frontline of support for governments and organizations. They will gain familiarity with the various metrics to convert a threat into an estimated loss and thus speak the senior management language.”

The IACM major debuted this past fall. Course topics include cybersecurity analytics, cybersecurity threat intelligence, database management, risk management, cloud solution architectures and cybersecurity governance and policies, among others.

Javidi said that demand is high for cybersecurity practitioners who not only possess technical abilities but also the business expertise to:

• apply security expertise across a wide variety of business enterprises
• operate under pressure with a strong ethical backbone
• understand business processes and the impact of compromised assets
• communicate and implement risk-based approach to security
• apply analytics to cybersecurity to generate actionable intelligence to improve security and privacy in organizations

Although the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus hosts the IACM major, the program is available to USF students at any campus.

Students enrolled in the program gain skills in the business management of cybersecurity, including risk management; incident business response; the use of analytics to detect, isolate, and prevent cybersecurity attacks; and overall management of cybersecurity functions within companies.

Graduates of the program can pursue opportunities as cybersecurity auditors, information assurance compliance specialists, cybersecurity consultants, cybersecurity incident response analysts, cybersecurity specialists, cyber intelligence analysts, cybersecurity operations analysts, cybersecurity planning SME and other related positions.

“We are proud of the IACM major on the Sarasota-Manatee campus as it strengthens the Muma College of Business in a unique way,” Sarasota-Manatee campus Dean Jean Kabongo said. “By graduating students competent in the family of jobs within cybersecurity management, the IACM major will help faculty and staff connect with students, alumni and local businesses and professional organizations while also impacting positively our community and beyond.”

For more about the Information Assurance and Cybersecurity Management major, visit

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