USF Sarasota-Manatee rolled out the proverbial red carpet Sunday for more than 800 donors, alumni and other supporters as the campus celebrated Brunch on the Bay, its premier fundraising and social event.
With tents spread across the campus courtyard, guests enjoyed an array of inspired creations from nearly 20 food and beverage vendors while raising money for scholarships as well as a new initiative announced at the event, the proposed Sarasota-Manatee Science & Research Building.
Working with USF in Tampa, USFSM leaders unveiled plans for the 75,000-square-foot facility to complement the existing campus facility.
The $35 million building would be located along the south side of campus, west of the Selby Auditorium. It would add much-needed teaching laboratories, lecture halls, clinical space and conference rooms – areas not included when the main building opened 11 years ago.
Students registered for biology and chemistry classes currently use the teaching labs at Mote Marine Laboratory on City Island in Sarasota.
USF leaders are hoping to acquire state funding to finance most of the building’s costs, but they also are seeking about $10 million in private donations to use toward the cost of the building. The Brunch event kicked off local fundraising efforts.
“We hope that you will help bring this project to reality and in the process provide a place for students, faculty and business leaders to explore relevant solutions to issues impacting all of us in this community,” Dr. Terry Osborn, interim regional chancellor for USFSM, told the crowd.
Separately, USF System President Judy Genshaft spoke briefly about another initiative: a proposed four-year nursing program at USFSM. That program, which comes in response to requests by hospitals and medical professionals for more nurses with bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees, is in preliminary stages.
Although USFSM is embarking on a capital campaign and other initiatives, the focus of the three-hour Brunch remained a popular and recurring theme at all Brunch events: the importance of scholarships in helping students, particularly local students, attain a college education.
Speakers, including President Genshaft, Dr. Osborn and Brunch Committee co-chairs Roger Frazee and Diana Michel all touched on this important topic.
“Brunch on the Bay is the signature fundraising event for USFSM, my alma mater, and I’m completely thrilled to be a part of a project which maintains a student focus from year to year,” Michel said.
Perhaps the most stirring testimonial came from a biology student completing his senior year at USFSM.
Addressing the guests, Jaime Hernandez Carranza talked about how he overcame humble origins in Mexico to attend classes here and if not for scholarships, he wouldn’t be earning a degree in biology this December and seeking entrance to medical school at USF in Tampa.
“I am fortunate to be where I am today,” Hernandez Carranza, who serves as a USFSM Student Ambassador, said. “The scholarship funds raised here today have a very real impact on the lives of students, their parents and our community. I hope to be in your seats one day, supporting this event and making our community better for its future generations.”
The Brunch attendees rose in a standing ovation.
At this year’s Brunch, the campus’ 24th annual event, about $315,000 was raised for scholarships through ticket purchases, table sponsorships and direct gifts. It’s hoped that more money will be raised in the days ahead through pledge cards distributed to the guests.
Summing up, Dr. Genshaft said, “Brunch on the Bay is a shining example of the energy, passion and commitment we all share to make a positive difference for our students. We are grateful for the generosity of our many friends who support our students’ success at USF Sarasota-Manatee.”