The University of South Florida’s Sarasota-Manatee campus continued its move through a period of transformative growth in 2022. The region’s only four-year research institution won initial state funding for planning and design of a Nursing/STEM building, and in early 2023 the campus will break ground on its first housing/student center complex. USF also celebrated major donor gifts that will allow the campus to expand its programs to better address the needs of the insurance industry workforce and send USF Sarasota-Manatee students to mentor sixth-graders to help improve their literacy.
Campus expansion takes big leaps forward
The University of South Florida Board of Trustees and the State University System Board of Governors approved construction of a $39 million, six-story housing/student center along Seagate Drive just west of the Crosley Campus Center, the first major addition to the campus since it opened in 2006. The groundbreaking will take place in early 2023, and, when the new 100,000-square-foot complex opens in the fall of 2024, as many as 200 students will be able to live on the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus for the first time. Also, early planning and design work are underway for a Nursing/STEM building that promises to double the size of the Sarasota-Manatee campus’s nursing program; increase new majors in the health disciplines and other programs; and fill the need on campus for teaching and clinical labs and research facilities. The building is planned for just west of Crosley Campus Center, across the courtyard from the housing/student center complex. Brunch on the Bay on Nov. 6 raised at least $537,000 for the new Nursing/STEM building, as well as student scholarships.
A historic gift for the Sarasota-Manatee campus to grow the Risk Management and Insurance program
Baldwin Risk Partners, a Tampa-based insurance distribution firm, donated $5.26 million for the expansion of the School of Risk Management and Insurance program, the largest gift ever received on the Sarasota-Manatee campus. The school has also been renamed the Baldwin Risk Partners School of Risk Management and Insurance and is poised to transform the program into an academic powerhouse and address employee shortage within the state’s vital insurance industry, which is hungry for talent. The insurance industry’s talent gap is fueled by an aging workforce and the lack of higher education programs specializing in the field. Aside from USF, only one other public Florida university offers a full major in the discipline. In addition, there are only 10 large risk management and insurance programs nationwide, with each graduating about 50 people each year.
New leadership at USF’s Sarasota-Manatee campus
Several leadership changes were made among faculty and staff at the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus during 2022:
- Brandon McLeod was named the new campus director of USF World, which encompasses various international education programs.
- At the Muma College of Business, Joni Jones was named campus dean; and Cihan Cobanoglu was appointed dean for the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management. Jones replaced Jean Kabongo, who moved to the Tampa campus as associate dean for academic affairs and accreditation and chief diversity officer for the Muma College of Business.
- Cheryl Ellerbrock was named campus dean for the College of Education.
- Cayla Lanier was named assistant dean for the Judy Genshaft Honors College.
- Danielle McCourt was named director of university communications and marketing on the Sarasota-Manatee campus.
- Kristi Hoskinson was named to the newly created position of assistant vice president for strategy and campus initiatives at the Sarasota-Manatee campus.
- Darren Gambrell was named associate director for the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
Couple’s $500,000 gift to USF funds tutoring and mentorship program at Sarasota middle school
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 in need of support to boost their reading skills — and to set a course for brighter futures. The USF cohort is 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 noted Sarasota philanthropists Joe and Mary Kay Henson. The Booker Middle School Literacy Initiative is led by Sarasota-Manatee education professors Cheryl Ellerbrock and Lindsay Persohn, along with faculty members at the middle school.
Faculty on the Sarasota-Manatee campus conducted numerous high-impact research studies, including:
- Study: Religious service participants faced less isolation-related anxiety during COVID-19
- USF researchers, students study court program to help sex-trafficking victims
- Study explores when nursing home chains should customize or standardize
- Fawn Ngo wants to level the playing field
- Pensionable overtime raises pension costs by almost 20%, study finds
- USF professors study the civil rights movement during REACH Montgomery Museum Studies program in Alabama
- Ukraine-Russia war brings new attention to USF professor Jody McBrien’s research on refugees
- Serbian students, professors visit Sarasota-Manatee campus as part of tourism research grant
Also, research on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the hospitality and tourism industry, and heightened awareness of racial tensions and disparities in the United States during the past two years, was featured in the fourth edition of “Research: USF Sarasota-Manatee Campus.”
‘Ukraine: What’s Next?’
The Sarasota-Manatee campus hosted “Ukraine: What’s Next?” — a multi-disciplinary examination of the war in Ukraine with a five-part lecture series on the military, geopolitical, economic and other ramifications of the conflict. The series, which started barely seven weeks after Russia invaded Ukraine, featured presentations from more than 30 military and intelligence community officials, cybersecurity experts, diplomats, economists, humanitarian experts and others who examined the war from their diverse perspectives, before a live audience on campus and others watching online. A follow-up lecture series, “Ukraine – One Year Later: A Four-Part Series,” is planned for the Spring 2023 semester on the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus.
Growth in graduate programs
Graduate programming on the University of South Florida’s Sarasota-Manatee campus continued to expand this fall as USF welcomed the largest and highest achieving first-year class in its history. On the Sarasota-Manatee campus, the number of incoming graduate students is triple what it was last year. Of the six advanced degree programs offered on the Sarasota-Manatee campus, four — hospitality, business administration, criminal justice and social work — experienced significant growth thanks to creative campus leadership.
Major stories affecting all of USF in 2022 included:
- Rhea Law was named president of USF in March, the first alumna to serve in the role. Under her leadership, the university experienced the most transformational legislative session in USF history, with record-setting investments in operations on all three USF campuses. She also led the effort to complete USF’s new five-year strategic plan.
- USF hit an all-time high on U.S. News & World Report’s annual ranking of the best colleges in the United States: No. 42 among all public universities and No. 97 among all universities, public or private.
- Philanthropic gifts to USF exceeded $151 million, from more than 34,000 donors, in fiscal year 2021-22, the most generous level of support in the institution’s nearly 70-year history.
- USF received the 2022 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award, which recognizes U.S. colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion.
- Forbes named USF as one of America’s best employers for women — No. 22 — and as one of the best employers overall in Florida. In America’s Best Employers by State, USF ranked No. 21 out of 100 public and private employers across a wide array of Florida industries, and No. 2 among higher education institutions.
For other top stories at USF during 2022, click here.