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Community Voices: Summertime at USF St. Petersburg

Caryn Nesmith



Mayor’ Ken Welch's community conversation on the redevelopment of the Gas Plant District/Tropicana Field July 28 brought 250 adults and 100 youth to the USF St. Petersburg student center. Photo: City of St. Pete.

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Some people assume a university campus shuts down during the summer months. But that’s not the case, at least not at USF’s St. Petersburg campus. The work of our Enrollment and Orientation teams are in full throttle, students take classes at three summer sessions, and the campus continues to buzz with different types of activity. Here’s an update on what’s been happening this summer at the USF St. Petersburg campus.

Changing of the Guard

We had several leadership shifts starting with Regional Chancellor Christian Hardigree, who began in her new role on July 1. You can get to know a little about Hardigree in this video where she talks about her upbringing on a farm in Georgia, and her time at university as a student athlete working two and sometimes three jobs. Additionally, after a year-long search, the Muma College of Business appointed Gary Patterson, a longtime associate dean and finance professor, to lead the Kate Tiedemann School of Business and Finance on the St. Petersburg campus. He had been serving as interim in the position since the departure of Sri Sundaram in 2021. 

Meanwhile Kristina Keogh has been named the new dean of the Nelson Poynter Memorial Library. She will start with us in September after six years as director of library services at the Alfred R. Goldstein Library at Ringling College of Arts and Design in Sarasota. Finally, David Rosengrant, who has been serving as interim director of education, has also officially been named our campus dean of the College of Education.  

Mayor’s Community Conversation, Pitch Night and Healing While Black

We’ve hosted several important community events. In early July, 16 startup founders pitched their products to a room of investors, venture capitalists and other fintech industry leaders during the inaugural Fintech|X Accelerator program. The mayor’s community conversation on the redevelopment of the Gas Plant District/Tropicana Field July 28 brought 250 adults and 100 youth to our University Student Center. The next day, the fifth annual Healing While Black summit brought together clinicians, service providers, community members, educators and more for three days of inspiring speakers, cutting edge research and healing activities. The event is the brainchild of Dr. LaDonna Butler, who also directs the amazing work at the Family Study Center on campus.

Summer Camps!

Being on a campus helps young people envision themselves at college. Lots of youngsters will hopefully become future Bulls after they played, fished, sailed, flew drones, and raced robots as part of camps on our campus this year.

  • Oceanography Camp for Girls. For three decades, the College of Marine Science has run a three-week summer ocean science exploration program for young women in Pinellas County, with the mission to inspire them to consider careers in the sciences.
  • Civics Fellows Program. For the fourth year, the Center for Civic Engagement and the Florida YMCA partnered to enhance civic education in the state by giving high school students hands-on experiences in government and public service.
  • STEM Robotics Camp. Every summer, the College of Education offers students in grades 5 through 8 experience with coding, programming and hands-on learning – from building a robot to creating a working model of a roller coaster. Campers learned from a variety of educators including USF St. Petersburg campus faculty, Pinellas County teachers and Microsoft experts.
  • Florida Fantasy Fishing Camp uses our campus every summer for a series of week-long campus that allow young anglers to fish with the best captains in our area.
  • Discover Your PATHe. This year for the first time, our campus welcomed nearly 50 students from the Pinellas County Urban League’s Summer Training in Youth Leadership & Employment program for a two-day, one-night stay for a college and career exploration experience. It was organized by Pinellas Access to Higher Education (PATHe), a community outreach partnership between us and St. Petersburg College that seeks to provide equitable and attainable pathways to higher education. 
  • SOF WOLF Drone Camp. Also for the first time, SOFWOLF – a nonprofit that offers a college and career outdoor leadership program for the teenagers of fallen Special Operations Forces – hosted a drone program on campus that taught youth how to collect and process geospatial data using drones; the real-world scenario teaches students to use drones and data science to assist in early detection and mitigation strategies of red tide.
  • Finally, the City’s Cohort of Champions youth toured campus, as did students from Dunedin High School; Bradford and Hawthorne High School, and the Cops ‘n Kids Youth Program, which offers summer camp and after-school programming for kids ages 6-17and in September we’re excited to be hosting more than 500 college counselors during their tour of the Florida State University System. 

In addition to all this activity, we’re gearing up to welcome news students. Last weekend, 196 students graduated from the USF St. Petersburg campus. As we ramp up for a new semester, we’re on track to have a record number of 929 students living in our residence halls, which opens so many opportunities for new programming and activities.  

And here’s more campus news from the summer, in case you missed it:

St. Petersburg student is first to graduate from PATHe program at USF

Student’s journey for greater opportunity pays off with 4.0 GPA and coveted internship

USF’s Family Study Center earns multi-year community investment funding from United Way Suncoast

USF professor discovers new species while part of team studying impact of oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico

College of Education receives grant to support underrepresented students in pursuing careers in STEM fields

USF St. Petersburg hosts town hall to raise awareness about disaster preparedness in south St. Petersburg

USF St. Petersburg campus and St. Pete Youth Farm unveil Fresh and Local Greenhouse to fight food insecurity

USF St. Petersburg campus connects to clean energy through community solar program

New “Lost Voices” exhibit translates and digitizes America’s oldest parish archive to provide rare insight into early Florida history

Caryn Nesmith is director of community relations at USF, a position jointly funded by the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership, the St. Petersburg Innovation District, the City of St. Petersburg and USF. This is a series focused on USF and its role in our community, serving to strengthen the prosperity of St. Petersburg and Pinellas County. You can contact Caryn at carynn@usf.edu


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