SARASOTA, Fla. (Dec. 01, 2017) USF Sarasota-Manatee congratulates the leadership of the USF System and USF Foundation for the stunning success of their USF: Unstoppable fundraising campaign.
Launched four years ago, the campaign reached its $1 billion fundraising target last month – seven months ahead of schedule – and to celebrate the historic occasion more than 800 top USF donors and guests gathered Nov. 12 at the Amalie Arena in downtown Tampa for a massive gala.
Moments before announcing the fundraising achievement, USF System President Judy Genshaft and USF Foundation CEO Joel Momberg invited to the stage Pam and Les Muma, who announced a new transformative $15 million gift to the university. The surprise revelation sparked enthusiastic applause, followed by a cannon blast of streamers that drifted from the Amalie ceiling.
The Mumas said that $5 million will go to the Muma College of Business, $2 million to establish a Women’s Health Center at the Tampa General Hospital campus and $8 million to USF Athletics. Of that portion, $5 million will go toward construction of the newly announced USF Football Center.
With total contributions exceeding $56 million, the Mumas remain the largest individual donors in USF’s 61-year history.
“We are so thankful for all that Pam and Les have done for USF,” Dr. Genshaft said. “Their support has helped power the transformation of USF and has made a tremendous difference for our talented students, phenomenal faculty and campus infrastructure.
She added: “Their gift also sends the important message that the campaign isn’t over as we continue on our path as one of the leading public research universities in the country.”
USF is one of three U.S. public universities to raise $1 billion in a single campaign since 1956, when the university was founded. The other two are the University of California San Diego and the University of California Irvine.
USF Sarasota-Manatee to hold 68th commencement Dec. 11
The University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee will celebrate its fall commencement Monday, Dec. 11, at 6:30 p.m. at the Bradenton Area Convention Center, 1 Haben Blvd., Palmetto.
Of the 200 candidates anticipated to graduate, about 145 from USFSM’s four colleges – Liberal Arts & Social Sciences, Business, Science & Mathematics, and Hospitality & Tourism Leadership – are expected to participate in the graduation exercise. Of that number, about 25 will be master’s degree candidates.
Interim Regional Chancellor Dr. Terry Osborn will represent USF Sarasota-Manatee and USF System President Dr. Judy Genshaft will preside. Dr. Bonnie Jones, assistant vice president for institutional research and effectiveness at USFSM, will serve as ceremony reader.
USFSM Faculty Senate President Dr. Fawn Ngo will bear the university’s mace. Jay Riley, director of business outreach and engagement at USFSM, will serve as processional announcer and Daniel Veitkus, a student in USFSM’s College of Science & Mathematics, will perform the National Anthem and USF alma mater.
Special awards will be presented during commencement to the following:
Outstanding Graduate Award
The University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee Outstanding Graduate Award is presented at each commencement by the USF Alumni Association. This prestigious award recognizes the graduating senior who exemplifies scholarly commitment, leadership, character, school spirit and dedication to community service.
Golden Bull Service & Outstanding Leadership Award
The Golden Bull Award is sponsored by the USF Sarasota-Manatee Student Government Association and given to the student who has excelled in leadership, academics and community and university outreach.
Jaime Hernandez Carranza
A student who exemplifies academic commitment, school spirit and charity toward others, Jaime Hernandez Carranza embodies the attributes of both the Outstanding Graduate Award and Golden Bull Service & Outstanding Leadership Award.
He serves as president of both the USFSM Ambassadors, a student group that represents USF Sarasota-Manatee at official functions, and the local chapter of Circle K International, a collegiate service-based organization. He also is a member of the American Chemical Society student club, past president of Biology Club and a former Student Government senator.
“This is a tremendous honor. I love this school and I’m truly fortunate to be chosen for both of these awards,” Hernandez Carranza said. “I’ve worked hard and put in a lot of hours to serve my fellow students. I feel as though the effort and work I’ve put into my classes and these organizations is being acknowledged through these awards. I’m very grateful and humbled by this.”
A biology student, Jaime had dreamed of becoming a doctor since coming to the United States from Mexico as a boy with his family. Since arriving at USF Sarasota-Manatee three years ago, Jaime has been well-liked and admired by his classmates. He said he’ll miss most the campus’ close-knit atmosphere and small class sizes, which allow for a free exchange of ideas.
“I think I’m going to miss that the most, and the fact that we all know each other here,” he said.
Jaime will graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology.
This spring, he will prepare for the Medical College Admission Test and apply to medical school at USF in Tampa.
Outstanding Professor Award
Honorees for Outstanding Professor at USF Sarasota-Manatee share a close connection with their students, passion for the university and its mission, and a commitment to excellence through education. Presented by the Student Government Association on behalf of the graduating seniors, this award is the highest campus-level honor for a USF Sarasota-Manatee faculty member. It recognizes exceptional accomplishments, leadership and service to the campus and community.
Sunita Lodwig, Ph.D.
Dr. Sunita Lodwig is an information technology instructor in the College of Business. She came to USF Sarasota-Manatee as a visiting professor 13 years ago and was appointed to a faculty position four years later.
“This was very surprising and, of course, I am deeply honored to receive this award,” she said. “It’s very meaningful to me because it relates directly to what I do every day and it tells me that what I’m doing is making a difference.”
Prior to joining USF Sarasota-Manatee in 2004, Dr. Lodwig enjoyed a successful career in the private sector, including at AT&T Bell Labs and Motorola. Her technical background covers a wide area, from defining strategy, technical marketing, project/product management and globalization issues, to cutting-edge software architecture, design, development and delivery.
Dr. Lodwig was awarded a Ph.D. in theoretical plasma physics in 1973 from the India Institute of Technology in Delhi, India. She has held positions at Northern Illinois University and Washington State University.
Admired by students and colleagues alike, Dr. Lodwig is passionate about teaching. She teaches a mix of in-person and online classes. This past semester, she taught three courses: Python (a computer programming language), data structures and algorithms, and an information technology senior project.
“I try to spend a lot of time with my students,” she said. “I try to make myself approachable, so they’re not nervous about talking to me. I tell them they should not be hesitant in contacting me. I will help them.”
This award, given by students, recognizes Dr. Lodwig’s outstanding contribution to USF Sarasota-Manatee.
King O’Neal Scholars
A tradition since 1988, King O’Neal Scholars are recognized each semester by the Alumni Association in honor of charter graduates Lucas King and Evelyn O’Neal. Graduating seniors with the highest cumulative Grade Point Average, 4.0, are identified as King O’Neal Scholars. Four King O’Neal Scholars will be recognized for this commencement exercise. They are:
A native of Sarasota, Karstyn Goldblum said she can’t remember a time when she didn’t want to become a school teacher. As a child, the oldest of five, she taught her siblings and neighborhood children in a makeshift classroom her mother arranged in the basement.
“I taught actual subjects, but it was just playing to me,” she said.
However, that spirit to teach and acquire knowledge only expanded as Karstyn grew. By the time she entered USF Sarasota-Manatee 2½ years ago, she hit her stride. She went on to achieve perfect scores in every class as a student in the School of Education.
By enrolling for courses over the summer and taking extra classes, she was able to complete her studies a semester early. Karstyn explained that she’s always been driven to succeed.
“I’ve worked very hard for my grades. I didn’t set out win the King O’Neal Award, but I always try to do the best in everything I do,” she said. “It was definitely a challenge.”
Karstyn has accepted a first-grade teaching position at Ashton Elementary School in Sarasota. She started a month ago.
She graduates with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education.
Like many at USF Sarasota-Manatee, Amy Miller is “a non-traditional student.”
At 45, she’s been taking classes at night and online for eight years while working full time and raising a daughter. Yet her devotion to her studies never wavered, which is why Amy, a student in the College of Business, achieved perfect scores in every class. She credits her success to two factors. One is an innate desire to succeed and do the best she can.
The other: “I want to set an example for my daughter. I want to show her that you can succeed if you try hard enough.”
Her determination paid off, and although the work was never easy, she said she “thoroughly enjoyed” the experience.
“I was impressed with the professors at USFSM. They have been exceptional,” she said.
Elisabetta Di Virgilio
Elisabetta Di Virgilio embodies the immigrant experience. Growing up in Pescara, Italy, she vowed to herself to someday move to the United States.
Later, as a student at Università Gabriele d’Annunzio in Chieti, she was able to make that dream a reality. She transferred to a community college in New Hampshire then enrolled a year later at USF Sarasota-Manatee.
Grateful for the educational opportunities here, Di Virgilio devoted herself to her studies.
“It was extremely hard. I won’t deny that,” she said. “When I moved here I spoke maybe 20 words and I could barely understand anybody. I couldn’t understand anything the professors lectured on. But just by reading and doing research it started to sink in.”
Three years after arriving in the United States, Di Virgilio would not only master English but achieve perfect scores in every class.
“I just wanted to do my best,” she said. “My parents raised me that way, to always do your best.”
Di Virgilio will receive a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She’s currently exploring graduate school options in clinical psychology.
As a student at Sarasota Christian, Octavio Gomez dreamed of working overseas for a non-governmental agency, helping impoverished communities.
At the same time, another passion consumed him, although he insists it goes hand-in-hand with the first: academic excellence.
“My internal mentality was that there really was no other option,” he said. “If I really want to help people then I have to do my best in my classes, to be the most effective I can be.”
As a result, Gomez pursued his studies with complete conviction, and his efforts paid off. He earned perfect scores in every class – and he accomplished this as an Honor’s Program student, president of the Global Society student club and a member of the Latin American Student Association.
Achieving his goal wasn’t easy, but, he says, “I think that I’ve always been that way. I’ve always been driven.”
Gomez will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Social Sciences with concentrations in anthropology and government and international affairs.
Now, he’s charting the next phase of his journey: gaining admission to graduate school. He says he wants to pursue a master’s degree in international development and policy.