University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee Campus



Campus Insider December 2022

Explore the December Campus Insider to discover what faculty, staff and students on the Sarasota-Manatee campus have been up to this fall: Brunch on the Bay, cultural exchange, financial literacy and much more. To receive the newsletter in your inbox each month, click here.

Couple’s $500,000 donation to USF funds tutoring and mentorship program at Sarasota middle school

“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” - Frederick Douglass

Ensuring young students can read, so they are free to accomplish their dreams, is a goal of a literacy program based at the University of South Florida’s Sarasota-Manatee campus that matches USF students with middle schoolers needing support to boost their reading skills — and to set a course for brighter futures. 

“I cannot imagine the terror it must be to try to manage life without being able to read,” Mary Kay Henson told the USF students during an orientation session for the Booker Middle School Literacy Initiative. “You’re going to be able to give something that you do without even thinking about it, reading, and you are going to be able to change a life.”

Mary Kay Henson

Read More

The USF students are tutoring and mentoring students at Sarasota’s most economically disadvantaged middle school as part of the initiative, which is funded by a $500,000 gift from Henson and her husband Joe, noted Sarasota philanthropists. Beyond helping to improve the students’ reading skills, the USF students — of whom only some are considering careers as teachers — are embedding themselves into the children’s lives to provide them with positive role models and new opportunities for success.

The literacy project, led by Sarasota-Manatee education professors Cheryl Ellerbrock and Lindsay Persohn in partnership with Booker academic intervention specialists Holly Ard and Grace Schaeffer, is a passion for the Hensons, prolific funders of numerous community-based projects, including others addressing shortfalls in reading proficiency in local schools.

“The Hensons are an extraordinarily generous couple with genuine love and concern for the children they are reaching through the Booker Middle School Literacy Initiative, and all children in the community,” said Brett Kemker, the Sarasota-Manatee campus’s regional vice chancellor and vice provost for academic affairs and student success. “Their gift to USF has created a unique opportunity for our professors and Booker teachers to develop strategies that benefit not only those middle schoolers with whom our students are working, but with all children needing support to become better readers.”

Booker Principal LaShawn Frost called the USF students working at her school each Friday “brain surgeons.”

"Their goal is to not only accelerate learning for our scholars, but they are going to stimulate brain cells and help them to achieve academic goals,” Frost said. “I am totally confident that the work we are doing here will be a model for the country.”

The USF students are embracing that challenge.

Sejal Keshvara has already graduated from USF with a degree in psychology, but she is taking additional science classes in preparation for dental school.

“I genuinely love to read. It was a big part of my reason to do this,” Keshvara said. “I want to make a difference.”

Biology major Brayden Bernard, who has previously volunteered for other reading programs, hopes to learn lessons he can apply as he pursues studies and a career in pediatric medicine. As a former patient, Bernard said he appreciates the importance of a pediatrician having good bedside manner with a child.

“I know how important even the shortest interaction can be,” he said.

The Hensons are trying to address the link they see between low literacy rates among some children in Sarasota County and poverty. About half of the students enrolled in Sarasota County public schools come from households below the poverty line, according to the school district.

Booker is the only Title I middle school in the Sarasota County School District. About four out of five students receive a free or reduced-price lunch each day. Both a magnet and a community school, it draws students of varying reading abilities from across Sarasota County.

During the 2021-22 school year, 35 percent of the 280 Booker sixth-graders passed the Florida Standards Assessment on English language arts, compared to 60 percent of sixth-graders in the entire Sarasota school district. Booker’s score, the lowest among the district’s seven regular middle schools, was down from 37 percent the prior year.

Mary Kay Henson joined the USF students for their training sessions, during which Ellerbrock, Persohn, Ard and Schaeffer addressed the various facets of the program, which has been in development for about a year.

Each USF student has been assigned a classroom where they work alongside a teacher to tutor sixth graders in core subjects and provide eighth graders support in algebra. “It is critical to support student academic success at the sixth-grade level,” Ellerbrock said.

The USF cohort is also establishing mentoring relationships by working one-on-one with Booker students to help them grow into lifelong readers. But this is only a starting point.

“You’re not a teacher, they have teachers here,” Ellerbrock, the campus dean for the College of Education at Sarasota-Manatee, told the USF students. “You’re that ‘adult other,’ that cool college student who can help ignite the love of reading and learning within these amazing Booker Middle School students.”

“I envy you because I am too old to do it at this grade level,” Mary Kay Henson said. “I can do it with the little ones because I am the grandmother. You all are so cool because you go to college.”

Among the criteria used to match the USF students with the sixth graders were their academic interests and what they like to read.

During orientation sessions, students learned lessons about tutoring, mentoring, what “literacy” truly means and how to communicate with adolescents, especially those with challenging backgrounds. The presenters also walked through the situations the USF students might face when working with the middle schoolers, everything from the physical and psychological changes brought on by puberty to how to address the younger students’ increasing awareness of the world around them, including sometimes difficult questions of fairness and justice.

The organizers also sprinkled their presentations with anecdotes from their teaching careers to illustrate how the USF students might make a difference in their mentees’ lives.

“Your job is to have relationships with these kids,” Ard told the USF students.

The Hensons established and funded the Booker Middle School Literacy Initiative through the Joe and Mary Kay Henson Foundation, a Sarasota-based 12-year-old private fund dedicated to helping children of poverty through early education programs and partnerships with the county school district. The foundation established and funded the Gocio School Pre-K program, now in its fourth year and slated to roll out to additional county elementary schools. The foundation also established and funded the Alta Vista Eagle Academy, absorbed by the county and now known as the Summer Learning Academy.

The Hensons’ intense interest in improving literacy for children and supporting projects that foster change is a perfect match with USF’s expertise on the subject, said Clara Villanueva, director of development at USF’s Sarasota-Manatee campus and of the Latino Scholarship Program.

“They have put in countless hours working in-person at local schools with educators, staff and school children alike, to promote literacy,” Villanueva said. “They use their platform to effect, inspire and demand change. They have vowed not to stop until every child is reading at grade level, and I believe them.”

The Henson’s gift will support other programs at USF’s Sarasota-Manatee campus, including a clinical health project focused on improving health outcomes for Hispanic families in Sarasota and Manatee counties.

The literacy program kicked off Oct. 15 with a day-long orientation for the USF students, who are being paid $20 an hour for their work at Booker Middle. A week later, they attended an additional professional development day focused on reading strategies and mentoring. They then met their mentees.

The program will run through the end of the current school year and through the 2023-24 and 2024-25 school years, as well.

“You have much to give back,” Joe Henson told the USF students. “One of the things you can take from this program is the lifetime satisfaction of knowing that you influenced the life trajectory of someone else. So, we’re pleased to be partners with you, to support you and we are committed to seeing that this is going to be successful. It will be successful because of you.” 

Brunch on the Bay raises $537,000 for Nursing/STEM building, student scholarships 

The 28th Annual Brunch on the Bay, the marquee benefit event for the University of South Florida’s Sarasota-Manatee campus, raised a record $537,000 — and counting — for construction of a new Nursing/STEM building and student scholarships. 

A sold-out crowd, which included distinguished university and community leaders, enjoyed fine dining from local restaurants and catering companies, as USF officials on Nov. 6 described plans to transform, both physically and academically, the Sarasota-Manatee campus and its place in the community. The total raised, up from a then-record of $500,000 in 2021, came from ticket sales, sponsorships and proceeds of a paddle raise during the event on the Sarasota-Manatee campus along Sarasota Bay. 

Brunch on the Bay

USF Federal Credit Union was the title sponsor for the 28th Annual Brunch on the Bay, an arrangement that has been expanded to a multi-year partnership. 

Read More

"We are happy to be the Brunch on the Bay title sponsor,” said Richard J. Skaggs, president of USF Federal Credit Union. “It’s the credit union’s mission to give back to the community it serves.” 

USF alumnae Dr. Mona Jain and her daughter Dr. Anila Jain, were the event’s co-chairs. 

“Today marks 28 years of scholarship generosity and success for Brunch on the Bay at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee campus,” the Jains said. “Since 1994, the event has demonstrated what is possible when a community and a university unite in support of higher education for future generations.” 

Also attending the event were USF President emerita Judy Genshaft, USF Foundation Board Chairman Jose Valiente, foundation CEO Jay Stroman, numerous state and local officials and members of the USF Sarasota-Manatee Campus Board, including Chairman Rick Piccolo. 

Since its founding, Brunch on the Bay has supported more than $6 million in scholarships for more than 2,000 students. This year’s event will also support construction of a 75,000-square-foot, $62 million Nursing/STEM building, the first new major academic building on the campus since it opened in 2006. 

Sarasota-Manatee Regional Chancellor Karen A. Holbrook told Brunch attendees the building will double the size of the campus’s nursing program and increase new majors in health disciplines, and include new biology and chemistry labs. It will also allow the Sarasota-Manatee campus to address the local demand for more nurses, business professionals, scientists and engineers, and support career preparation for emerging fields like artificial intelligence and data analytics. 

“The USF Sarasota-Manatee campus has seen tremendous growth in our current facilities, and now we are capacity constrained in a growing marketplace that requires more graduates from the programs that are most relevant in today’s world,” Holbrook said. “Fortunately, we are on the verge of an incredible opportunity to increase capacity, bolster student success and contribute even more to our local talent pipelines.” 

The Nursing/STEM building and a separate housing/student center complex that will break ground early next year will transform what it means to be a student or a member of the faculty and staff at the Sarasota-Manatee campus, Holbrook said. 

“We will transition from a commuter campus to a residential environment, adding to the attractiveness of the region as an education destination and expanding opportunities to recruit students from across the region, state, nation and internationally. We will become a destination campus,” Holbrook said. 

USF President Rhea Law told the crowd that community support is vital for the Nursing/STEM project, which is currently in the early stages of planning. 

“We’re ready to ask you to be part of a bold and exciting journey — and we look forward to all we can accomplish together in leading the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus to even greater heights,” Law said. 

Law said Brunch on the Bay “mirrors the strength of community partnerships at the Sarasota-Manatee campus. The connection your campus community enjoys with the surrounding community is your superpower.” 

“That strong bond allows you to recruit talented students and support them along the way,” Law said. “It means students have continually benefited from internships, mentor relationships and other career opportunities with area businesses.” 

Some of the students who have benefited from the generosity of previous attendees were featured in a video that played during Sunday’s event. 

Alison Frate, a pre-marketing student, shared her story of being a child of a single mother and helping pay the household’s bills, while being a college student. 

“I really don’t think I would be able to go if it wasn’t for the amazing donors and scholarships I’ve been provided,” Frate said. “There’s something to be said about those who give back to others.” 

Accelerated nursing students Kyle Alvarez Armbruster and Kathryn Williams said they were excited about the expanded facilities the Nursing/STEM building would provide. 

“There is a need for nurses everywhere,” Alvarez Armbruster said. “Being able to have a new state-of-the-art facility … is quintessential to Sarasota and the Sarasota-Manatee campus.”

Williams said “the STEM building would be impactful in bringing students to the campus, giving them the top-of-the-line education, that USF provides.” 

STudent spotlight: USF graduate's mental health struggles inspire her to help others

Born in the Dominican Republic, Yaniris Garcia-Jerez immigrated to the United States with her mother at age 3 to seek medical treatment for cardiovascular disease. Growing up in New York and Florida — with frequent return visits to her home country— Garcia-Jerez struggled with anxiety and depression and felt "insecure" and "stupid" whenever she struggled to find the motivation to complete her assignments at Braden River High School in Manatee County. Everything changed when Garcia-Jerez, now a senior at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee campus, received an ADHD diagnosis in 2020, a few weeks shy of her 20th birthday.

Yaniris Garcia-Jerez

“I really wish I would’ve known from the start,” said Garcia-Jerez, who will graduate debt-free with a B.A. in psychology this semester — the first in her family to do so. “Just being able to learn about how my brain works has made such a big difference.” 

Read More

Since receiving her diagnosis, Garcia-Jerez has identified a number of useful time management strategies, including calendar blocking and the pomodoro method, which breaks tasks into intervals separated by short breaks. She hopes to go on medication in the near future. 

“It was kind of a shock even though I suspected it,” Garcia-Jerez said of her diagnosis. “I didn’t want to just assume that I had it. So, I didn’t feel valid. I felt like, well, I don’t think I have ADHD because I can still go to school and get good grades and it’s not like I’m using any substances to cope. I thought, well, if there’s an issue with me, they would have caught it in school, you know?” 

It took her about three weeks to come to terms with the news. 

“I went my whole life not knowing that I have a completely different brain. Why did no one notice?” she wondered. 

Since taking classes in cognitive, developmental and abnormal psychology at USF, Garcia-Jerez is now well-aware of the difficulties many girls and women face before receiving diagnoses for neurodevelopmental conditions like ADHD. 

“Girls are just sort of conditioned socially to pay attention and to be nice and not act up,” she said. “I think a lot of women could be in the same position that I am and not even know it.” 

The experience has taught Garcia-Jerez to be kind to herself and those around her. It has also inspired her to pursue a career in the growing mental health field, where she hopes to work with others — children, teens and young adults with disabilities — who struggle with their mental health in academic settings.  

“A lot of the issues I’ve faced academically could have been solved if maybe I had that support from the beginning,” she said. “I am very much interested in working with people with disabilities and people who struggle with their mental health because of my own experiences.” 

This wasn’t always the case.  

After working as a hostess and waitress at a local restaurant, Garcia-Jerez became certified as a Registered Behavior Technician and began working with children with autism at Invo and Elemy

She credits her sister, who has Down’s syndrome, for inspiring her to work with children with disabilities. 

“It felt important to me to represent my sister in that way and to care for other kids the way I care for her,” said Garcia-Jerez, who found the work simultaneously “rewarding” and “taxing.” 

Garcia-Jerez left her job to study abroad in Florence, Italy, this summer. When she returned, she landed a job with USF World, where she helps recruit and advise students and promote USF’s education abroad programs. 

With graduation approaching, her vision for the future is clear: continue working at USF World, tend to her own mental health needs and apply to graduate programs. 

She has her sights set on USF's Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling program

“I’ve had difficulties finding counselors who look like me and represent me and understand my experiences — especially as an immigrant,” she said. “I hope to be one of those therapists who young people can talk to about the issues they may not be able to talk about at home.” 

Boundless Bulls is a collection of stories about what truly makes USF great — the people. It is a focus on our community footprint, our impact and the trajectory of where we can go together. To nominate a member of the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus community for Boundless Bulls, please fill out the submission form.

AlumNI spotlight: MANATEE COUNTY PRINCIPAL OF THE YEAR credits usf for turning her into THE leader she is today

Born and raised in rural South Georgia, Carol Ricks feels right at home in Myakka City, where she lives with her husband and two children on a five-acre plot of land and serves as principal of Myakka Elementary School.  

After three years at the school — during which the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the education system, a rezoning initiative brought a significant increase in enrollment and Hurricane Ian wreaked havoc on the tight-knit community — Ricks has been named Principal of the Year by the School District of Manatee County. Fellow USF Sarasota-Manatee campus alumna Adrienne Vos of Louise R. Johnson K-8 School of International Studies was named Assistant Principal of the Year in Manatee County. 

Carol Ricks

“I’m shocked,” said Ricks, who earned her M.Ed. in educational leadership from the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus in 2014. “There are so many principals doing great things in the district — many of them from USF. It’s a lot to live up to.”  

Read More

Conferred by the Florida Department of Education, Ricks’ award recognizes exemplary school administrators for their contributions to their schools and communities — including spearheading initiatives to increase student performance, promoting safe learning environments and establishing partnerships with parents and community members. 

Before stepping into her current role, Ricks taught first and fourth grade at elementary schools across the Manatee County school district and in her hometown in Lowndes County, Ga. It was when Ricks transferred to Gene Witt Elementary in Manatee County that her principal encouraged her to go into leadership and she enrolled in the M.Ed. program on the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus. 

“I’d never really considered that for myself,” said Ricks, who soon began taking on leadership roles for the first time in her career. 

Upon graduating from USF, Ricks spent three years serving as the assistant principal at Gilbert W. McNeal Elementary School — where she became inspired to push for new school attendance boundary lines — before moving into her current role at Myakka.  

“In my first year here at Myakka, we had about 240 students, and there were probably six or seven empty classrooms,” Ricks said. "I knew the Falkner Farm migrant students were originally zoned out here. And I also knew that McNeal was overwhelmed with students and that bussing was an issue because of the distance.”  

When James Golden, then a member of the Manatee County School Board, asked how he could help, Ricks suggested they look into rezoning.  

District leaders voted unanimously to approve the proposed new school attendance boundary lines right around the same time the COVID-19 pandemic pushed many students and educators out of the classroom and into e-learning environments.  

“With COVID, it was a true challenge out here because we’re so rural,” Ricks said. “Many of my families don’t have internet access. It’s really considered a luxury out here."  

The school partnered with local businesses and churches to provide internet access to the community, all while welcoming 100 new students from the Falkner Farm migrant camp into the school.   

“Everything happened at once. There was the language barrier, the internet barrier and the technology access issues,” Ricks said. “We basically had, like, six first days of school in the fall of 2020.” 

Throughout all of it, Ricks worked as an advocate for the school, its students and the larger community.  

“As soon as they said we were going to go e-learning, I had to jump in and fight for the hotspots and for internet access,” said Ricks.   

The next year, she advocated for a school-based bus program to address local transportation issues and instituted an elementary agriculture program — an important step in turning Myakka into a Community Partnership School like Daughtry Elementary, which adopted the innovative Community Partnership Schools model this year.  

When asked whether she’d like to see Myakka partner with USF, Ricks said she would love to.  

“As a Community Partnership School, we would have access to healthcare and education for the families, like GED lessons, English lessons and mental health,” said Ricks. “I just really try to speak for the community and get them what they need.”    

Then, on Sept. 28, Hurricane Ian made landfall on the west coast of Florida, battering Myakka City and the surrounding areas for hours and causing widespread flooding.  

“We ended up doing a community support drive with the Myakka Community Center,” said Ricks, who oversaw the transformation of the elementary school into a shelter during the storm while her husband, a lineman with Florida Power and Light, worked to restore electricity across the county.  

As Ricks prepares her application for the Florida Department of Education’s statewide Principal of the Year award and reviews the assignments she completed as a student in the M.Ed. program on the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus, she is surprised to see so much overlap between her graduate school aspirations and her life today.  

“One of the recurring themes in all the portfolio activities I had to do was that I wanted to be a servant-leader and that I wanted to focus on the school climate and culture and to focus on the whole child,” Ricks said. “I didn’t see myself as a leader at that time, but looking at where I am now, it’s all trickled into what my vision is as a leader at Myakka and working toward giving the kids all they need to be successful, not just academically, but give them that positive climate, the love and support they need, and collaborate with the community and the families.”  

That vision is what inspired Ricks, this October, to adopt a therapy dog named Ruby, who, once fully trained, will provide grief and anxiety support to students at Myakka. 

“Right now, her main goal is to get used to being around kids and adults,” Ricks said.  

Like the principal at McNeal Elementary School, who encouraged Ricks to pursue a leadership position and enroll in graduate school at USF, Ricks also seeks to identify potential leaders among the faculty at Myakka.  

“USF, hands down, is my first pick for anyone who’s interested,” Ricks said. “They gave me the groundwork I needed to be a successful leader.”  

Boundless Bulls is a collection of stories about what truly makes USF great — the people. It is a focus on our community footprint, our impact and the trajectory of where we can go together. To nominate a member of the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus community for Boundless Bulls, please fill out the submission form.

USF alumni, faculty win principal and assistant principal of the year in Manatee and Sarasota counties

The School District of Manatee County has named Carol Ricks of Myakka City Elementary School principal of the year and Adrienne Vos of Louise R. Johnson K-8 School of International Studies assistant principal of the year. Stephen Covert of Pine View School was named principal of the year by the School District of Sarasota County. 

Both Ricks and Vos are University of South Florida alumnae. Ricks earned her M.Ed. in educational leadership from the Sarasota-Manatee campus in 2014. She has been with the School District of Manatee County since 2008 and led Myakka City Elementary School since 2019. 

Read More

Vos earned a B.A. in exceptional student education and a M.A. in educational leadership from USF. She has been with the school district since 2010 and became assistant principal during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. 

Unlike Ricks and Vos, Covert is not a USF alum but an adjunct faculty member on the Sarasota-Manatee campus. He most recently taught Administrative Analysis and Change, a course in the M.Ed. in educational leadership program. He was appointed principal of Pine View School in 2013. 

Their awards, conferred by the Florida Department of Education, recognize exemplary school administrators for their contributions to their schools and communities — including spearheading initiatives to increase student performance, promoting safe learning environments and establishing partnerships with parents and community members. 

The USF Sarasota-Manatee campus offers a range of undergraduate and graduate degrees and certificate programs in elementary education and educational leadership and policy studies, all of which encourage action research and reflective practice to develop and prepare compassionate, ethical, public intellectuals to become transformative teacher leaders committed to social justice. 

Ricks and Covert will be considered for the Florida Department of Education's principal of the year award. 

Darren Gambrell promoted to lead diversity office on USF Sarasota-Manatee campus 

Long-time staff member Darren L. Gambrell has been promoted to associate director for the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee campus.    

With almost two decades of service to USF, Gambrell has served as interim director since the summer — along with his other duties as assistant director of student services in the Office of Multicultural Affairs on the Sarasota-Manatee campus. He has worked in student services since 2003, when he was a still a student at the campus.  

Darren Gambrell

Read More

“Darren joins our senior leadership team with an impressive history of working on DEI initiatives related to women, racial minorities, the LGBTQ+ community and those needing help with accessibility issues,” said Sarasota-Manatee campus Regional Chancellor Karen A. Holbrook. “He has a demonstrated a deep understanding of how our diversity makes USF a positive place to study and work.” 

Saying he was “super excited about the opportunity,” Gambrell said one of his first tasks would be to revive the Chancellor Advisory on Diversity and Inclusion Council to include representation from each department and entity on the Sarasota-Manatee campus. The council, Gambrell said, will develop relevant programs and trainings and advise on needed policies, practices and procedures. 

"My top goal is to build on the climate here at USF Sarasota-Manatee campus, where each student, staff, faculty and community member feels valued, appreciated, respected and welcomed on campus,” Gambrell said. 

When he was named interim director, Gambrell — who has over a decade of experience addressing issues of diversity, equity and inclusion — organized a series of listening tours with students, faculty and staff to learn about challenges, ideas and more related to DEI and how he could support DEI efforts on the campus and at USF.     

Gambrell was recently recognized for his work on issues of diversity, equity and inclusion. In April, he received an Inclusive Excellence Award for making outstanding contributions to the university in the areas of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. 

“Darren’s award recognized his role as a positive force at USF,” Holbrook said. “He is often the first person to greet visitors when they arrive at the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus, and he is known for making them feel welcome and respected. Darren shares and promotes opportunities for everyone on campus to participate in DEI programs, activities and events. 

“I know we all look forward to working with Darren in making our campus a more welcoming place for all,” Holbrook said. 

Manatee Chamber of Commerce brings interactive financial literacy program to local high schools 

The Manatee Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the University of South Florida and the Manatee County School District, brought Big Bank Theory, an interactive financial literacy program, to all eight public high schools in the county for the first time since 2019.   

The program challenges high school seniors to think about their futures and navigate the financial responsibilities of a typical young adult.  

“Part of our ongoing commitment as a community engaged institution is to foster these deep, mutually beneficial relationships within our community,” said Casey Welch, assistant regional vice chancellor in the office of external affairs and government relations at the Sarasota-Manatee campus. 

Suzanne Gregalot

Read More

Participating students received a new identity — complete with an occupation, a salary and a hypothetical spouse who may or may not contribute to the household’s annual income. Some were given dependents. Others were told they had dropped out of high school before earning a diploma. The students, then, visited 14 stations — including a USF-branded education booth — and made spending decisions, all while trying to stay within their monthly budget.   

“It’s really eye opening for the students,” said Welch. “There are so many ah-ha moments.”   

Welch volunteered alongside Suzanne Gregalot, assistant director for the office of admissions, and Jay Riley, senior director of corporate partnerships and external affairs, at the education booth, where students had the opportunity to add advanced degrees to their resumes and increase their earning potential.   

“This was an engaging opportunity for USF to connect with local students and demonstrate how pursuing educational opportunities is the key to unlocking their future success,” Gregalot said. “The students really are in the driver’s seat. It was fun to encourage them, help them when they got stuck or just offer helpful tips and advice.”  

Next year, the Sarasota-Manatee campus will formally apply to the Carnegie Foundation to seek the Community Engagement Classification, a prestigious designation that requires an intensive process of self-study and recognizes institutional commitment to community and civic engagement. Ongoing partnerships like this contribute and strengthen the campus’s application portfolio. 

In the spring, the Sarasota-Manatee campus will again partner with the Manatee Chamber of Commerce to host Project TEACH, a program that brings local business professionals into fourth-grade classrooms to help students explore different career opportunities — and the steps required to achieve them. 

Serbian students, professors visit Sarasota-Manatee campus as part of tourism research grant

Nine professors and students from the University of Novi Sad in Serbia traveled to the University of South Florida’s Sarasota-Manatee campus in November as part of a U.S. Embassy Partnership grant designed to foster a long-term relationship between the hospitality and tourism programs at the two schools. An equal number of USF professors and students visited Serbia in October.

The $98,000 grant was awarded to Brooke Hansen, director of sustainable tourism in the Patel College of Global Sustainability; Adam Carmer, director of the Sensory Innovation Lab and assistant professor in the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management; Cihan Cobanoglu, dean of the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management and director for the M3 Center for Hospitality Technology & Innovation; Laura Harrison, director of USF’s Access 3D Lab; and Faizan Ali, associate professor in the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management.

The aim of the grant, titled “Immersive Technologies for Cross-Cultural Tourism Development: U.S. and Serbia on a Pathway to Digital Transformation,” is to foster an informative and cultural exchange between faculty and students at USF and the University of Novi Sad.

Cihan Cobanoglu and Brooke Hansen of the University of South Florida at a Serbian eco/ethno tourist destination called Captain Misha's Hill, an important cultural heritage site that is now an art gallery, wine museum, sustainability showcase and restaurant.

During their visit to the Sarasota-Manatee campus on Nov. 17, the Serbian visitors were featured at a “Lunch and Learn” event, hosted by USF World, at which Professor Lazar Lazic, dean of the Department of Geography, Tourism and Hotel Management at the University of Novi Sad, presented a slide show featuring dozens of castles, palaces, museums and other cultural heritage sites in Serbia. The USF contingent visited many of the sites during their earlier visit this fall to the Balkan nation, Carmer said.

Serbia Insider

The Serbian visitors then enjoyed a traditional American Thanksgiving meal during a Friendsgiving event in the FCCI Rotunda.

“Learning from one another is the essence and joy of education,” Carmer said.

During their visit to Florida, the Serbian delegation toured several locations that highlight the importance of hospitality and tourism industry to the state, including Busch Gardens, St. Armand’s Circle and downtown Sarasota. They also visited USF’s Access 3D Lab.

Read More

“This is an important step forward highlighting digital and virtualization technologies for tourism,” Hansen said. “We saw great examples in Serbia of hologram exhibits and virtual reality stations at tourism sites and we hope to create more of that here in Florida with our USF resources.”

In a few weeks, Hansen will join the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management as an associate professor of instruction and will coordinate further programming and collaborations with the University of Novi Sad.

Lazic and another Serbian professor, Miroslav Vujicic, said they were impressed by how welcoming their USF hosts were, and by the size and diversity of what they had seen during their visit.

“Everything is huge,” Lazic said.

Carmer and the Serbian professors see many potential long-term benefits of a relationship between their two schools. For example, there could be future student exchanges, and Vujicic said they anticipate returning to Serbia with ideas to help the hospitality industry in his country, which currently is visited by a relatively small number of American tourists.

“This is just the first step,” Vujicic said. 

FPL and some of Santa’s ‘elves’ honor USF Sarasota-Manatee's Carlos Moreira for his service to veterans 

Carlos Moreira, whose job is to make college life easier for military veterans and their families at the University of South Florida, received a big thank you from Florida Power & Light. 

Moreira arrived at his Sarasota home on Nov. 30 to find that some of Santa’s “elves” — including several of his colleagues on the staff at the Sarasota-Manatee campus — had decorated it with lights and other holiday displays, as part of FPL’s annual effort to honor military veterans in the state. 

“An annual tradition, this celebration marks the 15th consecutive year of FPL’s holiday program, which gives back to local heroes for their incredible commitment to the nation and the community,” the company said in a news release.  

Carlos Moreira and family

Read More

“Carlos Moreira spent more than 15 years on active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps, plus three years as a reservist before enrolling in college at the University of South Florida (USF). Since retiring, Carlos has worked as a veteran services administrator at USF’s Military and Veteran’s Success Center. He is also currently serving his second term as the volunteer president of the Sarasota County Veterans Commission.” 

"I'm not used to getting this for me. I'm used to doing this for other people. So, it's definitely different," Moreira told television stations covering the big reveal

Tickets on sale for 2023 climate conference on USF’s Sarasota-Manatee campus

Tickets for the Climate Adaptation Center’s 2023 Annual Climate Conference on the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee campus are on sale.

The conference, which takes place from 8:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 9 in the Selby Auditorium, will focus on topics especially relevant to living in Florida: the threats posed by rising global temperatures, rising seas and extreme weather events; and how climate action can stimulate the climate economy. 

Read More

Co-sponsored by USF’S Sarasota-Manatee campus, the conference will feature presentations and discussion by acclaimed CAC scientists, academic experts, business leaders and government officials.

"Conference attendees will learn about the threat we face and the pathways to action in an engaging inclusive day designed to move our area forward with adaptation and mitigation strategies to protect the Florida way of life,” said Bob Bunting, CEO of the CAC.

The conference will include a light breakfast before the morning session, “The Triple Threat of Water in a Warming Climate.” The three threats are directly related to rising global temperatures and rising sea levels; bigger storm surges on top of rising sea levels; and a rising number of extreme precipitation and flooding events.

A catered lunch will be followed by the afternoon session, “The Emergence of the Climate Economy.” It will feature speakers and panelists who will provide an understanding of how climate action can drive sound economic and growth objectives for the Suncoast. Discussion will include how academia can stimulate the climate economy through entrepreneurship and innovation; how governments can stimulate the climate economy; how the private sector can stimulate the climate economy; and the role philanthropy plays in stimulating the climate economy.

Conference title sponsors are the Charles and Margery Barancik Foundation and Tommy’s Express Carwash. Other co-sponsors include Sarasota Magazine, Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Climate First Bank, Best Weather Inc., Cumberland Advisors and Triangle Ranch.

Tax deductible memberships to the CAC can be purchased online and guarantee free tickets and preferred seating at the conference, as well as other CAC events. To ensure you will have tickets, become a member of the CAC.

Other tickets are on sale on a first come, first served basis.

The Climate Adaptation Center, Inc. (CAC), founded in 2019, is an independent, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization headquartered in Sarasota. Its mission is to bridge the gap between the latest scientific research and the public’s understanding of the changing climate and how it impacts where the public lives.

To purchase tickets and for other information, visit the CAC website

Sarasota-Manatee professor among College of Education faculty awarded grant for paraprofessional-to-teacher pipeline

Professors Sara Smith, Terry Osborn and Connie Walker-Egea from the University of South Florida College of Education recently received a grant of more than $2 million for their collaboration entitled, “Project Parasol: English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Paraprofessional to Teacher Pipeline.” The grant is administered by the National Professional Development Program, specifically the Office of English Language Acquisition.

For the next five years, the team will work with the School District of Manatee County to build a career pathway for 60 ESOL paraprofessionals to earn a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from USF and ultimately secure a teaching position in the Manatee School District.  

Terry Osborn

The College of Education’s blog reported Project Parasol will increase the number of highly prepared ESOL teachers and the number of bilingual teachers within the school district by providing ESOL paraprofessionals with a viable pathway to postsecondary education with wraparound supports designed to improve success. 

Read More

“We are excited to work with our amazing partners in SDMC, including Ms. Debra Estes, director of ESOL, Migrant and Dual Language Programs in SDMC,” said Sara Smith, principal investigator for the project and assistant professor of ESOL/Language Education. “We hope to develop a scalable program that can be replicated in other districts through the state of Florida and the country.” 

Osborn is a professor in the College of Education on the Sarasota-Manatee campus and an authority in applied linguistics and critical pedagogy. Walker-Egea, is an assistant research professor in the Department of Child and Family Studies within the College of Behavioral and Community Sciences at USF.

Memorial bench honoring Katerina Annaraud dedicated in campus courtyard

On Nov. 15, the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee campus dedicated a bench in honor of the late Katerina Annaraud, who served as an associate professor in the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management from 2005 to 2021.

The memorial was made possible by a gift from Jay Schrock, dean emeritus of the School of Hospitality and Tourism Mangement, and his wife Janet.

In addition to the Schrocks, the intimate dedication ceremony included in attendance members of the senior leadership team and the advancement team, campus deans and members of the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management staff and faculty.

Remembering Katarina Annaraud

The bench is located in the courtyard.

Return to article listing

Explore More Categories

About Sarasota-Manatee Campus News

Campus News, Research, Events, and Student Life from around the Sarasota-Manatee campus.