University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee



USF Sarasota-Manatee celebrates progress on new student center and residence hall with scholarship, naming announcements

By Marc R. Masferrer, University Communications and Marketing

New and returning students who want to live in USF Sarasota-Manatee's new residence hall when it opens this fall, are eligible for up to $4,000 in scholarships to take their place in USF history as “trailblazers” who will help shape the campus’s first residential community.

USF announced the scholarships during a celebratory event on Monday marking the progress in the construction of the six-story student center and residence hall overlooking Sarasota Bay, the first major expansion of the Sarasota-Manatee campus since it opened in 2006.

Another big announcement during the celebration event, attended by about 325 people in what will be a first-floor ballroom in the student center portion of the building: CORE Construction, the construction manager for the project and co-host of the celebration, will donate $200,000 to the USF Foundation to name the ballroom lounge. It is the first naming gift made in support of the new student center and residence hall.

law at celebration

USF President Rhea Law speaks with the media during a visit to the sixth floor of the new student center and residence hall at USF Sarasota-Manatee.

Attendees at the event also had a chance to leave their mark on the building by signing a commemorative wall that will remain on display in what will be the Student Commons when the building opens.

USF President Rhea Law and Sarasota-Manatee Regional Chancellor Karen Holbrook said the new facility highlights USF’s growth and rise in stature in the Sarasota-Manatee region, and its continuing efforts to improve the student experience.

“The progress on USF Sarasota-Manatee’s first-ever student center and residence hall adds to the incredible momentum we are experiencing at the University of South Florida and serves as a reminder of the bold opportunities awaiting us in the future,” Law said. “This new facility will transform the student experience in Sarasota-Manatee and allow us to grow our impact in the community. We can’t wait to welcome the first group of students who will live the Bull’s life on campus when the building opens this fall.”

Holbrook said the new building would not have been possible without the support of Law and other USF officials in Tampa.

Karen Holbrook

USF Sarasota-Manatee Regional Chancellor Karen Holbrook speaks during the Construction Celebration in the ballroom of the new student center and residence hall.

Holbrook also recognized the efforts of Sarasota-Manatee students.

“This building is a reality thanks to the support of several generations of students who could see the future benefits for their colleagues,” Holbrook said. “Their foresight and planning to commit funds for this expansion for many years really made this building possible.”

Alexandra Lopez, Sarasota-Manatee's student governor, said students are excited to finally have “a place of their own to call home on this campus.

“A place where everyone can bond and build new beloved traditions in an environment created for students to thrive,” Lopez said.


USF has been accepting applications to live in the building since last fall, and on Monday began accepting applications for the scholarships, which will be for up to $4,000 over two semesters in 2024-25. The scholarships, made possible by the generosity of community donors, will create an affordable option for students eager to be pioneers in remaking USF Sarasota-Manatee into a residential campus.

(Note: The housing scholarship deadline has been extended. Scholarship awards are limited and based on date of submission and until funds are exhausted.")

The top four floors of the building will be comprised of suites and apartment-style residences that will be home for 200 USF undergraduate and graduate students.

“When this complex opens and welcomes its first residents it will create a new vibrancy for the campus,” said Brett Kemker, USF Sarasota-Manatee regional vice chancellor of academic affairs and student success. “The first residential students will be trailblazers that will guide and advise the direction of the campus experience alongside our student success professionals.”

Kemker also touted what the student center — which will include the ballroom, innovative dining options, a bookstore and lounges and offices for USF World, student government and other student groups on the first two floors of the building — will bring to campus.

“There is no doubt that the programming and amenities in the student center will change the student experience for commuter and residential students alike,” Kemker said.

The student center, he added, “will create a sense of place and identity for all of our students, a place of their own where they can build and shape the culture of this campus.”

Lopez said students are ready.

“Whether a student lives in the new residence hall, or just spends more time studying, meeting, eating, gaming or gazing across the bay — student life is about to thrive like never before at USF Sarasota-Manatee when this building opens,” Lopez said. “And this is just the beginning.”


From left, Natalia Chersia De Leon and Isabelle Sorensen will live in the new residence hall when it opens in August. With them are Sarasota-Manatee Student Governor Alexandra Lopez and Lt. Gov. Bethsagesna Thalen.


The ballroom where Monday’s event took place will be a signature destination in the new student center. Anyone attending events there will pass through the CORE Construction Ballroom Lounge.

“We’re incredibly grateful to CORE Construction for its generous gift of $200,000 to support the new student center and residence hall,” Holbrook said. “The entire community will be proud of the new building, thanks largely to the skilled work performed by CORE.”

Scott Olthof, the president of CORE Construction, said a deep trust has developed between his company and USF during the planning for and construction of the new building.

“Looking at the project and progress that has been so far, I don’t think I’ve ever seen an owner, designer and build team come together in such a positive way,” Olthof said.

Jason Mitchell, CORE Construction’s vice president of client services, said the gift highlights company’s desire “to go beyond just building buildings.”

“Our CORE team wanted to leave a meaningful impact and invest into the future of USF and our community,” Mitchell said. “We are grateful to be a part of such a special project and look forward to celebrating its opening with students, staff and faculty later this year.”

USF is offering naming opportunities for other parts of the student center and residence hall, as well as the entire facility. For more information, contact Marrie Neumer, associate vice president of university advancement, at or 941-359-4737.

To ask questions about the housing scholarships, email 

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