Construction is officially underway for the first-ever student center and residence hall on the University of South Florida’s Sarasota-Manatee campus, launching a new era for USF’s home along Sarasota Bay and the surrounding community.
The six-story, 100,000-square-foot building, going up along the south side of the campus courtyard, is scheduled to open in the fall of 2024 as the on-campus home for as many as 200 students.
USF students, community leaders and other guests gathered on campus on Wednesday, March 1, for a groundbreaking ceremony hosted by USF President Rhea Law and Sarasota-Manatee campus Regional Chancellor Karen Holbrook.
“This project represents a significant milestone in the University of South Florida’s history and signals our commitment to the expansion of the Sarasota-Manatee campus,” Law said. “We’ve made it a priority to increase student housing at USF because we know that living on campus can raise academic performance, support student retention and create a stronger sense of community. This new facility will transform the student experience by providing more opportunities to get involved, connect with peers and build long-lasting relationships.”
Holbrook said the first major expansion of the campus since the opening of the Crosley Campus Center 17 years ago, “changes the dialogue about USF’s Sarasota-Manatee campus in our community and beyond.
“The student center and residence hall will help recruit and retain students, and infuse students’ college experience with a new vibrancy that will allow the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus to forever shed the moniker of being a ‘commuter college,’” Holbrook said.
Highlights of the approximately $42 million building:
- It is being constructed along Seagate Drive, just west of the existing Selby Auditorium and Crosley Campus Center.
- The first two floors will include a ballroom, dining facilities, a bookstore, lounges, meeting space and offices for USF World, student government and other organizations.
- Architectural features in the student center portion will include large windows allowing students and visitors to look out toward Sarasota Bay and Longboat Key.
- The top four floors will include residences in various configurations.
The USF Board of Trustees and the State University System of Florida Board of Governors approved construction of the new building last year.
The addition of the student center and residence hall will elevate the higher education profile of the Sarasota-Manatee region by making the campus an even more desired destination that can attract talent from outside the local area.
The new building will be topped by the first-ever residence hall on the Sarasota-Manatee campus, but the first two floors also will provide new, larger homes for several services now scattered in smaller spaces, in a central student center. For example, the current bookstore is located several blocks south of campus and the student government is squeezed into small offices on the first floor of the Crosley Campus Center.
And the new dining hall will be considerably larger than the current café, which will soon be renovated into a teaching kitchen for the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management. Likewise, the first-floor ballroom in the new building will be a much larger, more formal location for events than the Selby Auditorium or the FCCI Rotunda.
Student government leaders thanked USF for making them part of the planning for the new building.
“We’re excited that we will finally have a dedicated student center, just for the students, because education goes beyond the classroom,” said Student Government Gov. Evelyn De Oliviera. “We are honored to have been involved in the planning of the building and to see what the future students will have access to.”
History of the campus
The University of South Florida’s presence in Sarasota-Manatee started in the early 1970s with night classes at local high schools. The university shared space with New College of Florida on its Sarasota campus from 1975 to 2006, when USF moved its local campus to the new Crosley Campus Center, across Tamiami Trail (U.S. 41) from Sarasota Bradenton International Airport.
The move to its own facilities was the catalyst for a period of remarkable growth in academic offerings and enrollment at the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus that coincided with the region’s rise in prominence.
A second campus expansion project in development is a $62 million Nursing/STEM building being planned and designed for a spot across the campus courtyard from the student center and residence hall.
“This community, the Sarasota-Manatee community, is key to USF’s identity,” said USF Trustee Rick Piccolo, who also is the chairman of the Sarasota-Manatee Campus Board. “USF is serving the educational demands, providing solutions and realizing even greater opportunities for our ever-expanding economy.”
However, missing — until now — was a way for students to live on campus and enjoy a fuller college experience.
For more information about the new student center and residence hall, visit sarasotamanatee.usf.edu/welcomehome For more about expansion plans at the Sarasota-Manatee campus, visit sarasotamanatee.usf.edu/future
For more photos and video from the groundbreaking event, visit here.