Lee Williams

A message from Lee Williams, CFRE
Regional Vice Chancellor for Advancement and Alumni Relations

Inside our Spring 2019 issue, you’ll find a new feature — a message from the University’s Regional Chancellor, Dr. Karen A. Holbrook. Dr. Holbrook shares the institution’s master plan, which includes insights into land expansion, housing, a new academic facility and a new STEM facility, which we are calling ISTC (Integrated Science and Technology Complex). You won’t want to miss it!

USFSM proudly announces that Bank of America is the 2019 Premier Partner of the 26th annual Brunch on the Bay, and we are thrilled. Inside this issue, you’ll hear from Mike McCoy, market president, Sarasota-Manatee, Bank of America, as well as 2019 Brunch co-chairs—Lauren Henry and Pete Peterson, and 2020 co-chair elect, Maria Agostino Githler. For now, mark your calendar for Sunday, Nov. 3, for Brunch and stay tuned for more details.

In our last issue, we featured our partnership with Designing Women Boutique (DWB) as a member of its GroundWorks program. If you’d like to learn more, simply check out the website: or call 941-366-5293 and ask for Martee Phillips. Here’s how it works. … Donate any gently used, upscale item (household or clothing) to DWB, get your tax receipt, and tell DWB to deposit the proceeds from the sale of your item to USFSM. At the end of the year, all proceeds support education, scholarship and mentor initiatives at the university. It’s that easy!

Lastly, you’ll read about this year’s HospitaBull evening held on Tuesday, March 26, at the Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota. Greater attendance translated to increased dollars for student scholarships and programming within our College of Hospitality & Tourism Leadership.

I know you’ll enjoy this issue. Have a question or want to learn more about USFSM or get involved? Feel free to email or call me at or 941-359-4582, and we can explore how your interest in the university and students can make a difference in our community.

Dr. Karen A. Holbrook

Dr. Karen Holbrook: USFSM master plan enhances a vibrant community

USF Sarasota-Manatee (USFSM) is planning for the future, and that master plan includes some exciting changes for USF’s southernmost regional campus. If all goes as anticipated, Regional Chancellor Dr. Karen A. Holbrook hopes to have shovels in the ground by the end of this year.

So, what’s on the drawing board?

“Right now, the master plan is our vision of what we want this campus to be – a very vibrant community for both residential and non-residential students,” she said.

USFSM’s first residence hall will face Sarasota Bay, which, Dr. Holbrook says, will be a wonderful way to attract students to the campus. The land on which the residence hall will be built is part of the Powel-Crosley Estate, and is currently owned by Manatee County. The County Commission voted unanimously on the concept to transfer the land to USFSM. The hall will be a 200-bed facility that will be shared with New College, with 75 beds for New College students and 125 for USFSM.

A student center is in the early planning stages and will include food service, student government offices, a work-out center, offices and space for meetings, as well as community space.

The centerpiece of the master plan, however, is the new Integrated Science and Technology Complex (ISTC), the only new academic building currently on the drawing board.

“It will accommodate all of our science and technology courses, and those courses will intersect with other programs,” Dr. Holbrook said. “This is a very interdisciplinary campus and the building will allow for cross-over programming. The building is designed with lots of interactive spaces where students can congregate to work together on projects — or socialize.

“Our planning,” Dr. Holbrook added, “also needs to be looking ahead to programs that take into account new technologies: artificial intelligence, 3-D printing, automation and virtual reality. There is no sense designing something for today. You have to design for the future. And that’s our real challenge.”

The timetable for the project is dependent on a few key dates. The agreement that transfers the land must be finalized, Dr. Holbrook explained. Once that is done, it goes to the Board of Trustees for approval, and from there to the Board of Governors. The modified master plan will also be subject to several steps for approval.

“A lot of pieces have to fall into place before any construction can begin. And, at the same time, we will be raising money for ISTC.

“We have two groups planned that are going to help with the fundraising. One will be called Women in STEM or ISTC Women – a group of women who will be role models, mentors, advocates, and fundraisers for this new building. We will also set up an ISTC Advisory Council to help with strategies for fundraising.”

If shovels do indeed go in the ground by the end of this year, the hope is to have a residence hall completed by the fall of 2021. The final academic building, three more residence halls and the boathouse (to support an NCAA Division I women’s rowing team) would be built after that.

“Everything has its time and place,” she said. “And it was time for all of this to happen.”

ISTC: A closer look

Artist’s rendering of USFSM’s proposed ISTC building

The proposed Integrated Science and Technology Complex (ISTC) building will be much more than the center for STEM learning on the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus. As stated in the summary document on the new facility, “A building can just be a building – or it can be a catalyst for transformational experiences in and out of the classroom.”

ISTC will be all of that, and more.

The building, as it is now planned, will become a new “front door” to the USFSM campus, where students enter into a state-of-the-art building that is clearly academic. Though its main purpose will be to support new STEM, STEAM (Arts) and STEM-H (Health) learning, it is also being designed as a campus hub with large-scale open spaces with furnishings that can be reconfigured for a variety of uses, ranging from large gatherings, meetings and conferences, to smaller spaces for private discussions, “on-the-fly” meetings, quiet spaces for study and more.

Glass walls throughout will create a sense of openness, energy and vitality – literally putting science on display, while encouraging a sense of community and collaboration.

The ultimate goal, of course, is to establish a state-of-the-art setting so that USFSM can create the highest-quality educational experience for students who are preparing to join a high-tech and business-minded workforce along the Gulf Coast of Florida.

It is estimated that more than 20.6 million students will have graduated from universities between 2012 and 2022, though only about 3.3 million of them will be STEM majors — at least 1 million short of the current need. In Florida, an estimated 411,000 STEM jobs are needed in order to bolster Florida’s competitiveness, and locally, businesses such as Sun Hydraulics, PGT Innovations, Tropicana Products and Tervis Tumbler, among others, are on the lookout for STEM talent.

The ISTC building will attract qualified students and increase STEM enrollment. It will also attract faculty who are top researchers, increase research funding by 2025 and provide students with state-of-the-art resources and an incomparable environment in which they can learn the skill sets that will fuel our future.

Nursing: The need is real

USFSM has stepped up to meet the challenge created by a growing shortage of nurses in the Sarasota-Manatee region. (Photo courtesy of Matt Mays)

The statistics are startling.

By 2025, the nursing shortage in Florida, and here on the Gulf Coast, is expected to reach critical proportions, threatening our access to quality healthcare.

The demand for nurses is greater than ever as Florida’s large population of baby-boomers approaches retirement age. At the same time, according to the Florida Center for Nursing, more than 40 percent of Florida’s nurses will be approaching their own retirements within the next 10 years, leading to a potential shortage of more than 56,000 full-time RNs in Florida as early as 2025.

While retaining the current nursing work force is an important part of the solution to this problem, colleges and universities must work to expand the overall number of nursing programs and the number of seats in existing programs.

USF-Sarasota Manatee has stepped up to meet that challenge, establishing a pathway to a nursing career in partnership with the USF College of Nursing, opening doors for students and responding to a community need at the same time.

USFSM is offering two paths for those interested in nursing as a career.

“Starting in 2018, USFSM began recruiting pre-nursing students, who could then apply and, if accepted, could become nursing students in the USF College of Nursing program on the USFSM campus,” said Dr. Paul Kirchman, dean of the USFSM College of Science & Mathematics.

A second option is designed for students who have already earned a bachelor’s degree in a related major (biology, chemistry, etc.) to join USF’s accelerated second degree major in nursing and earn a Bachelor’s in Nursing (BSN) degree through a four-semester, 16-month program beginning in the spring of 2020 at USFSM. In a little more than five years, the student will have earned two bachelor’s degrees.

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, graduates of accelerated programs are prized by nurse employers as being more mature, possessing strong clinical skills, and being quick studies on the job.

The good news with this program, Dr. Kirchman said, “is that it will enable us to have more nurses in this area sooner.” Those who enroll starting next spring, will be ready to enter the workforce in 2021.”

The USFSM second bachelor’s nursing program will begin with 20 students next spring, and will grow to 50 students thereafter. These students will receive practical, clinical experience at Sarasota Memorial Hospital and Manatee Memorial, among others.

Every major hospital in the area is working to increase the number of bachelor’s degree trained nurses – from 30 percent today to at least 80 percent. “While two-year nursing degrees are available, it is bachelor’s degree trained nurses that hospitals and doctors want to hire,” Dr. Kirchman said. “Our program fits in perfectly with the needs of our community.”

A Gift for the nurses

Joann Schoenbaum Miller, Phil King and USFSM Regional Chancellor Dr. Karen A. Holbrook hold a framed article referencing King’s estate gift and including a photo of King and Betty Schoenbaum. (Photo courtesy of Cliff Roles)


Phil King, USFSM engagement officer, was honored recently at a reception at the Hyatt Regency, hosted by USF Sarasota-Manatee.

Inspired by long-time friend and philanthropist Betty Schoenbaum, King pledged a $250,000 estate gift to create an endowed scholarship for students in the USFSM College of Nursing Program.

Guests heard from Marion T. Yongue, associate vice president of university development.

“Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. You are making a gift that will last forever and help students you will never even meet,” said Yongue.

Also speaking was Betty Schoenbaum’s daughter, Joann Miller, who presented King with a musical bear that her mother often gave to her closest friends.

“Today is not about me,” King said. “It is about something that will have a great impact on people’s lives.” He then shared the story of the tremendous impact nurses had when he lost his first partner to cancer. “The nurses were true heroes, and I developed such a respect for the profession,” he said.

King, who met Schoenbaum in 2002 and was her frequent escort to many social events, wanted to put the scholarship in Betty’s name, but she would not hear of it. Instead, he said, “I decided I would do it in Betty’s honor. She is still with me every day,” he added.

A very HospitaBull evening

USFSM’s 2019 HospitaBull was the most successful in the history of the event, with more than 300 guests attending a night of exquisite cuisine at the Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota.

The culinary talents of USF Sarasota-Manatee’s hospitality students were in the spotlight at the ninth annual HospitaBull event, held at the Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota.

More than 300 guests (double the number in attendance last year) attended the festive evening, which began with a cocktail reception in the ballroom lobby. All of the food and service for the evening was handled by USFSM students and faculty, with the help of their Ritz-Carlton mentors.

Guests were greeted by Pat Moreo, dean of the College of Hospitality & Tourism Leadership (CHTL), and instructor Joe Askren, who introduced Regional Chancellor Dr. Karen Holbrook.

She began by presenting the Hospitality Leadership Award to Jeff Mayers, general manager of The Resort at Longboat Key Club, and the Champion of Education Award to Bob Weil, food and beverage director of The Resort at Longboat Key Club. Three student scholarships were awarded: Jocelyn Riley taking home the inaugural William Stover Scholarship; Susan Varge, the CHTL graduate scholarship; and Toan Vinh Nguyen, the CHTL undergraduate scholarship.
Dr. Holbrook also introduced a video on USFSM’s new campus master plan, which includes a state-of-the-art Integrated Science and Technology Complex as well as new residence halls and more.

Speaking on behalf of the hospitality department were father and son Tony and Michael Gula, the son a senior and the father in his first year of the hospitality program. “While the outcome of this is important, the journey together is priceless,” Tony Gula said.

The fabulous meal included a salad of local greens, grapefruit slices and goat-cheese crostini, with a passionfruit vinaigrette; lemon-thyme roasted free-range chicken breast with Boursin mashed potatoes, haricot vert and tomato-chicken jus; and, for dessert, an orange yogurt cake, toasted meringue, sweet cream and fresh strawberry compote.

Brunch on the Bay 2019…Funding the future for students, businesses, and our community

2019 Brunch on the Bay Co-Chairs Lauren Henry and Pete Peterson

For 25 years, USFSM’s Brunch on the Bay has brought together many of this area’s leading restaurants and caterers for a delightful morning of fabulous food, fellowship and fundraising on the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus.

Since 1994, Brunch on the Bay has awarded more than 1,800 scholarships, totaling in excess of $1 million, and created a scholarship endowment totaling $1.5 million. When state matching grants, endowment earnings and in-kind support are included, the event has helped generate more than $5.5 million for college scholarships.

The premier partner for the 2019 event will be Bank of America.

Mike McCoy, Bank of America market president for Sarasota and Manatee counties, noted that Dr. Judy Genshaft once described the Brunch on the Bay event as transformational, with its focus on giving students an opportunity to learn and grow and be a part of our local workforce, thereby transforming our community.

Bank of America, he said, “develops strong partnerships with organizations such as USFSM to address issues fundamental to economic mobility, bringing together our collective networks and expertise as part of our commitment to help fuel economic and social progress. Partnering with USFSM, we can help students to further their education and realize their dreams.”

This year’s event, the 26th annual Brunch on the Bay, will be co-chaired by Lauren Henry, Pete Peterson and the 2020 co-chair elect, Maria Agostino-Githler.

According to Lauren Henry, “We made incredible strides last year in increasing the amount of scholarship dollars we were able to raise, and, therefore, the number of students we were able to help – but we’re just getting started. I wanted to volunteer to co-chair again this year because I see so much potential for how we can bring this initiative to the next level.”

Henry was a member of the first freshman class at USFSM and the 2016 outstanding graduate. “I had such a phenomenal experience as a student there, and I want to make it possible for more students to have that opportunity, as well. There is so much talent and passion in the next generation just waiting to be tapped, so the more opportunities we can provide to train them and get them plugged into our local businesses, the brighter the future will be, not only for the students, but also for the Sarasota-Manatee region.”

She added that the 2019 event will be “better than ever before,” with some exciting new additions to the always festive day on the bay.

Peterson calls Henry “a rock star,” noting that he was so inspired by what she did last year as co-chair, that when she asked him to work with her on this year’s event, “it was a no-brainer.”

“USFSM is a pillar in our community and helps our businesses fill critical positions, while building tomorrow’s entrepreneurs and leaders. This is one event that makes a lifelong impact on our community – especially the students.”

While he said he can’t guarantee fireworks or high-wire acts, he could tell us that “We are doubling our lobster bill, inviting new community members and looking forward to making the biggest impact possible for the students and the community at this year’s brunch. It’s all about our students,” Peterson said. “Mentor, support and hire local. Go Bulls!”

Agostino-Githler says “I am basically the understudy to the dynamic duo of Lauren Henry and Pete Peterson this year.” While she is co-chair this year, she will be one of the chairs for the 2020 event. “Phil King started this conversation with me. I respect Phil so much, and am amazed at how he puts people together to best utilize their time, talent and treasure. It was a great honor when he asked me to get involved in Brunch on the Bay.

“I also believe all of us should invest in the community in which we live. This is an incredible group of students at USFSM and we need to do everything we can to support them as they get their education and begin their careers, hopefully right here in our community,” she said.

USFSM receives Educational Partner of the Year award

USFSM Regional Chancellor Dr. Karen A. Holbrook accepts the Career Source Suncoast Education Partner of the Year workforce excellence award during the State of Talent Conference at Art Ovation Hotel.

USF Sarasota-Manatee received the CareerSource Suncoast Educational Partner of the Year award at the Innovation in Workforce Luncheon during the 2019 State of Talent Conference, held on May 2 at Art Ovation Hotel.

The State of Talent Conference welcomes human resource professionals, business owners and community leaders to better understand the state of talent in our community. “Where Creativity Meets Talent” is the theme of this year’s event, which will include speakers from around the world offering creative approaches to recruiting, developing and retaining talent.

In its nomination, USFSM noted its many partnerships with area businesses and organizations to identify employment needs, and its tailoring of programs and services to train students to meet those needs.

USFSM Week celebrates arrival of spring

USFSM Week 2019 included a week of festivities kicked off by a balloon drop in FCCI Rotunda.

April 1-5 was a week filled with special events at USF Sarasota-Manatee designed to celebrate the arrival of spring.

The festivities began on Monday with a kick-off party held in the FCCI Rotunda and continued on Tuesday with a Disney-themed DIY day. Wednesday was “Way Back” Wednesday, while Thursday was USF Giving Day, an annual fundraiser that gives faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends of USF the opportunity to support campus causes that are most important to them. Supporters could choose between two worthwhile funds: The USFSM Stay the Course Scholarship and the USFSM Veterans Supplemental Fund or add to another fund of their choosing.

Thursday also marked Rocky D. Bull’s birthday. While the lovable bull would not disclose his actual age, he was seen enjoying all of the freshly baked cookie sandwiches which were part of the celebration. The week of festivities culminated on Friday with an old-fashioned carnival, held in the south parking lots, and featuring rides and games for more than 400 “children.”

Campus Board member Bill Mariotti receives USF Fast 56 award

USFSM alumnus Bill Mariotti, president of Bill Mariotti Site Development Co., Inc., accepts the USF Fast 56 award.

The University of South Florida Alumni Association honored the 2019 USF Fast 56 – the fastest growing USF alumni-owned or led businesses in the world – on April 26.

Bill Mariotti, president of Bill Mariotti Site Development Co., Inc., a USF Sarasota-Manatee Campus Board member and a member of the USF Alumni Association Board of Directors, was honored with a 2019 USF Fast 56 award. Mariotti, who is treasurer-elect of the alumni association board, has won the award four times.

Mariotti is a USFSM alum and a Sarasota resident who in 2017 announced he would make a legacy gift of $3.5 million to USFSM and USF, the largest individual donation in USFSM’s history.

Mariotti’s company was one of 56 businesses inducted by USF System President Judy Genshaft, PhD, and USF Alumni Association Board of Directors Chair Merritt Martin.

To be considered for the USF Fast 56 program, an organization must have been in business for at least three years, have revenues of $250,000 or more for the most recent 12-month period, and be owned or led by a former USF student.

The 2019 USF Fast 56 companies were ranked by percentage of cumulative annual growth in revenue, as documented by Cherry Bekaert, a public accounting firm based in Tampa. Fifty-six USF alumni owned or led businesses were selected as recipients, in recognition of the year USF was founded, 1956.

USFSM Instructor Sunita Lodwig wins Women in Leadership award

USFSM Information Technology Instructor Sunita Lodwig, PhD, addresses a class in Tanzania.

Sunita Lodwig, PhD, an information technology instructor in the College of Business at USFSM, won the Women in Leadership and Philanthropy (WLP) Faculty Research Award on April 10 at the annual WLP dinner at USF in Tampa.

Lodwig said she plans to use the award grant to further children’s education in Tanzania.

“This award will go a long way toward opening the riches of the information age to young children, and enhance their thinking, goals and future,” she said.

The USF System WLP Faculty Research Award recognizes USF System faculty whose research and creative efforts focus on women, women’s issues and women’s initiatives.

Lodwig has focused on bringing computer hardware, software and instructional support to schools in Iringa, a city of 151,000 in central Tanzania. In addition, she developed an instructional program and has twice traveled there to instruct teachers about computers and the Internet. Her efforts have focused on helping children, particularly girls and young women.

“To see their faces when you help them, these children are so very grateful,” Lodwig said. “Many of these schools lack the most basic of educational materials, items that we take for granted in the west.”