University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee Campus



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Top stories of 2023 at USF Sarasota-Manatee

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University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee continued on a path of transformative growth in 2023, highlighted by the start of construction of a student center and residence hall rising along Sarasota Bay and USF’s admission into the elite Association of American Universities. USF also selected architects and a general contractor for a new Nursing/STEM building on the Sarasota-Manatee campus that will include classrooms and research laboratories and allow USF Sarasota-Manatee to further elevate the higher education profile of the region.

Here we grow! Student center/residence hall rises above campus

student center and residence hall

Six months after construction started, USF Housing this fall began accepting applications from current students wanting to be among the first to live in the new six-story, $42.3 million student center and residence hall going up along the campus courtyard. (Incoming freshmen will be able to apply after they are accepted to USF.) The first two floors of the 100,000-square-foot building will include a dining hall, ballroom, bookstore and lounges and meeting rooms, as well as offices for student government and USF World. The top four floors will include suite- and apartment-style residences for up to 200 students, offering unprecedented views of Sarasota Bay, Longboat Key and other environs. The building will open for the fall 2024 semester.

USF joins Association of American Universities



The University of South Florida reached a historic milestone by accepting an invitation to join the Association of American Universities, a prestigious group of 71 leading research institutions in the United States and Canada. USF President Rhea Law said it was “a historic and momentous achievement for USF,” the first public university in Florida to be invited to join the AAU in nearly 40 years. Sarasota-Manatee Regional Chancellor Karen Holbrook said AAU membership recognizes USF’s long-held commitment to and success in growing as a research institution over the past decade and a half. “The AAU’s recognition fits perfectly with our campus’s goal of creating a more vigorous, more prestigious academic experience for our faculty and for our students, and for supporting groundbreaking research,” Holbrook said.

Planning for Nursing/STEM building

nursing stem

USF selected architects and a general contractor for a new $61.7 million Nursing/STEM building that will allow USF to grow the campus’s nursing program, increase new majors in the health disciplines, engineering and other programs and fill the need on campus for more classrooms, teaching and clinical labs and research facilities. The architects are HuntonBrady Architects of Orlando and Tampa; and Baltimore-based Ayers Saint Gross, both of which have experience designing nursing and health sciences facilities for universities and other institutions. The general contractor is Willis A. Smith Construction of Sarasota, which has worked on various education-related projects in the region.

Florida Center for PAInT awarded $2.6 million grant to bring arts-integrated pedagogy to civics classrooms

denise davis cotton

Denise Davis-Cotton, the director of the Florida Center for Partnerships in Arts Integrated Teaching (PAInT), received a $2.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to launch a professional development program, called “Bill of Writes Storytellers,” for educators who teach social studies in elementary and middle schools that serve low-socioeconomic status households and communities. Over three years, the project, titled “Bill of Writes Storytellers,” will bring together 24 classroom teachers from Illinois, California and Washington D.C., 12 teaching artists and 24 community members in 12 nonprofit public charter school organizations — including Distinctive Schools, Inc., The School of Arts and Enterprise and Caesar Chavez Public Charter Schools for Public Policy — to encourage student involvement through project-based learning and promote arts-integrated pedagogy.

Professor's RESEARCH FINDS LINK BETWEEN hearing interventions AND slowing cognitive decline

Michelle Arnold

Michelle Arnold, an associate professor of communications sciences and disorders at USF Sarasota-Manatee, was part of a research team that found that in older adults at heightened vulnerability for cognitive decline that strong hearing intervention efforts, including use of hearing aids, a hearing “toolkit” to assist with self-management and ongoing instruction and counseling with an audiologist, slowed the deterioration of mental awareness and acuity by 48 percent by “making listening easier for the brain.” According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 40 million Americans over 18 already have some trouble hearing. Alzheimer’s Disease International, meanwhile, projects the number of people worldwide living with dementia will reach 152 million by 2050.  “We’re lucky in that, in such a divided world that we live in these days, hearing loss is pretty universal, Arnold said. "Everybody can agree that being able to talk to people and hear what they say and understand them is a really important issue.”

Sarasota-Manatee professor part of team that wins largest cybersecurity grant for USF



The National Science Foundation awarded the University of South Florida the largest grant it has ever received for its cybersecurity program to help prepare students for in-demand, high-paying jobs in the federal government and other public institutions. One of the co-investigators on the five-year, $3.7 million grant is Giti Javidi, a professor in the Muma College of Business and director of the Information Assurance and Cybersecurity Management program on the Sarasota-Manatee campus. “CyberCorps is a unique and prestigious scholarship for service program funded by NSF and supported by the Department of Homeland Security,” Javidi said. The grant, she added, "will provide momentum for collaborative research and student mentoring in cybersecurity between the campuses. Most importantly, students across the entire Tampa Bay region will now be able to aspire toward cybersecurity careers in the federal government.”    

Research highlights


Faculty on the Sarasota-Manatee campus conducted numerous high-impact research studies on myriad topics, including:

(* Stories originally published in USF Sarasota-Manatee's Momentum magazine.)

New leadership for RMI program

randy dumm


Randy Dumm joined the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus, where the Baldwin Risk Partners School of Risk Management and Insurance is based, in July, after more than six years as a professor at Temple University in Philadelphia, the largest RMI program in the country. Dumm, who also spent almost 20 years at Florida State University, said the USF program is well positioned to become the next powerhouse RMI program in the country, as it continues an expansion that started last year when Baldwin Risk Partners donated $5.26 million to turbocharge the growth of the program and USF renamed the school after the benefactor. Dumm said the gift from the Tampa-based insurance services firm laid a “strong foundation” that will help the program grow by supporting scholarships, research and events where students can interact with industry leaders. Others in the industry have also joined in supporting the program.

Sarasota-Manatee professor plays on ‘Jeopardy’


Jonathan Scott Perry, an associate professor of history at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee campus, competed the game show “Jeopardy!” Of an estimated 100,000 hopefuls, only 400 individuals make it through the screening process to the “Jeopardy!” stage each year. Perry's performance aired on Feb. 9. “It’s a lot harder than yelling at the TV at home,” said Perry, who has been a fan of the game show since it was syndicated in 1984. “I had no idea what I was in for. I never got the hang of the clicker." An ancient historian by training, Perry teaches a range of courses in the Department of History on the Sarasota-Manatee campus. His research examines the ways in which ideas and images from the ancient world are reappropriated in modern life. “I felt confident about the history categories, but science has always been something I’m not good at,” Perry said. 


Other major stories affecting all of USF in 2023 include:

For more top stories of 2023 at USF, click here.

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