USFSM July 2018 Newsletter

USFSM benefits from 2018 Giving Challenge

USF Sarasota-Manatee was among the many groups to benefit from the 2018 Community Foundation of Sarasota County’s Giving Partner Challenge, May 1-2.

The annual fundraising blitz generated more than $11.7 million for more than 630 nonprofits in Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte and DeSoto counties. More than 49,000 people contributed more than $6 million, and because The Patterson Foundation matched individual gifts up to $100, that total was nearly doubled.

USF Sarasota-Manatee benefitted as well, receiving 118 gifts amounting to $10,250.

However, because of matching grants from The Patterson Foundation and the First Generation Matching Grant Program, many of those donations were doubled, even tripled. Additionally, throughout the noon-to-noon charity event, USFSM students set up a command post to track donations and send out messages of gratitude to donors through social media.

USF Sarasota-Manatee is grateful not only to those students for their dedicated effort but to the many generous contributors who supported the campus during the 2018 Giving Challenge.

Thanks to all and Go Bulls!

ANAHEI scholarship to aid USFSM hospitality students

A University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee professor has founded a scholarship to help out-of-state hospitality students who are transferring from other colleges.

Dr. Cihan Cobanoglu, McKibbon endowed chair, director of the M3 Center at USFSM’s College of Hospitality & Tourism Leadership (CHTL), introduced the idea to appeal to non-resident students eyeing hospitality programs in Florida.

“I decided to create this scholarship in the hope it will attract good talent, and that when these students graduate they will remain in the area to serve our local businesses,” he said.

The idea emerged during a conference of the Association of North America Higher Education International (ANAHEI). Students from Howard Community College in Columbia, Md., asked the professor about USFSM’s hospitality program. The campus already provides in-state and out-of-state scholarships, but Dr. Cobanoglu thought that additional financial aid would attract more out-of-state transfer students.

This past spring he provided seed money and laid out a dedicated funding plan for the scholarship – $3,000 a year over five years. He’s also hoping that other faculty and campus supporters contribute as well.

“The whole idea of this is to serve Florida,” Dr. Cobanoglu said. “By giving out scholarships we hope to attract more talent to Florida. In addition, this is a great way for ANAHEI to support USFSM.”

The scholarship goes into effect this fall. Currently, about 10 percent of the college’s student body resides outside the state.

For more about USF Sarasota-Manatee’s College of Hospitality & Tourism Leadership, visit

Enterprise Holdings Makes Generous Donation

USF Sarasota-Manatee is offering its thanks to Enterprise Holdings for the company’s recent $5,000 donation.

“USF Sarasota-Manatee has been a valuable partner to us for several years and we are happy to support this institution and its students,” Kayla Cramer, talent acquisition manager at the company’s Fort Myers office, said in presenting the donation last Wednesday at USFSM.

Ben Heins, coordinator of internships and service learning at the campus, said he was grateful for the company’s longtime support and its recent generous contribution. The funds will be used to promote student success.

“Enterprise has been a wonderful partner,” he said. “Their support has been transformational in the lives of our students.”

Enterprise has been supportive of the campus for years, not just financially but also in its willingness to accept USFSM interns. In addition, many USFSM graduates have transitioned to management training programs at Enterprise.

USF Sarasota-Manatee Grad Gives Back in Unique Way

Entrepreneur Pete Petersen has been quick to help his alma mater, even as his career reaches new heights. The 2015 USFSM graduate helped launch a digital marketing class in the College of Business, taught several of the classes himself and has become a go-to source for graduates entering the job market.

Petersen, the CEO of the auto dealership services provider Dealers United, has a simple explanation for his support. He wants to give back to his alma mater. But he also sees practical advantages.

“This is a way to align businesses and the local community directly with colleges,” he said, adding that working hand-in-hand with USFSM helps address future workforce needs. “One of the things I’ve always liked about USF Sarasota-Manatee is that it’s always been responsive to the business community.”

Petersen’s business instincts were honed years ago. As a teenager in Vernon Township, N.J., he designed websites for skateboard and snowboard shops. Later, after moving to Florida with his parents, he put his entrepreneurial skills to use installing WiFi networks for small businesses.

One of those clients, up-and-comer LexJet, enlisted Petersen to build out its IT structure. The company coaxed him to join its leadership team and a decade later the same thing happened when friends Matthew Buchanan and Jesse Biter asked him to run their startup, Dealers United.

Launched two years earlier, the services provider offers purchasing discounts, digital marketing expertise and other amenities to franchise and independent car dealerships. The company filled a unique niche and made the perfect fit for Petersen, bridging his technology and management knowledge.

Dealers United has since thrived. Founded in 2012, the company represents more than 5,500 dealerships nationwide and employs 18 people at its downtown Sarasota offices. Based partly on the strength of its digital marketing division, Petersen expects that number to grow to 50 employees over the next year.

“The company has evolved but the mission is still the same, to help dealerships save time, reduce costs and increase their sales,” he said.

Yet with all his success, Petersen, 38, concedes something was lacking. After starting and running businesses and rubbing elbows with chief executives and business owners for most of his life, Petersen never made time for college. He possessed an associate’s degree, but with his focus directed toward business, he never returned for his bachelor’s degree – despite friends, business acquaintances, even employees all having degrees.

Petersen resolved to focus on college. With USF Sarasota-Manatee a few miles from his job at LexJet, he enrolled in the College of Business and squeezed in the classes when he could. Ten months later, he joined Dealers United and in 2015 graduated with a business degree.

Now Petersen is on a new mission – to give back – but he’s doing so in a unique way. Notably, last fall, Petersen and fellow tech industry experts approached College of Business Dean James Curran about launching and teaching an elective in digital marketing.

Given the shift from traditional advertising platforms and rise of social media and other breakthrough technologies, the course made sense, they said. The more they talked about it, the more Dr. Curran, a marketing expert himself, liked the idea. Months later, their discussions yielded a complete marketing elective where Petersen and the other digital experts would teach some of the courses to share their expertise.

Topics ranged from website design, social media marketing, digital public relations and guest blogging to Google analytics, search engine optimization, Facebook advertising, YouTube advertising and avatar creation, among others.

The intent, Petersen said, was to give business students another tool once they graduated and entered the job market. Hopefully, he said, some of those graduates would stick around to offer their skills at local companies.

“My point was we wanted to whet people’s appetite around digital marketing,” he said. “A few years ago I started dabbling in helping dealers with their digital marketing needs and I learned that there are not a lot of trained digital marketers in this area, there’s not a big pipeline, and I thought that by building that up, that could be a way to align businesses directly with colleges.”

Recent graduate Drew Detweiler said the class turned out to be one his favorites.

“Marketing can be philosophical with lots of ideas and theories,” said Detweiler, a Marine Corps veteran. “But this class, it wasn’t just theory waiting to be applied sometime down the road. Everything was applicable now. It was one of the most informative classes, if not the most informative class, during my entire time in college.”

Petersen says he’s hired three USFSM grads over the years. He doesn’t make it a goal to hire alumni, but he says he likes the idea of hiring local.

“I don’t care where you come from, but if we have chance to hire local we’re really excited about it,” he said.

USFSM Nursing Program Receives Generous Gift

Longtime USF Sarasota-Manatee booster Phil King says he continues to fail at retirement.

He had all the intentions of slowing down after selling his business and moving to Sarasota, but then he was introduced to the Glasser/Schoenbaum Human Services Center, home to more than 17 nonprofits that provide health and human services to low-income families.

At first a volunteer, King soon found himself serving on the organization’s board of directors and later as executive director. When the center’s founder, Dr. Kay Glasser, passed away, King was introduced to Betty Schoenbaum, a noted philanthropist who became one of the center’s strongest leaders. Her husband provided the center’s startup funding.

Along with Glasser, Schoenbaum became one of King’s closest friends. Their influence would help redefine his retirement and set him on a path of helping others – including students at USF Sarasota-Manatee. “I will forever be indebted to those women who believed in me and gave me opportunities that changed my life,” he said.

Now a cherished and longtime USFSM supporter, King is making his most generous gift yet to the campus: a $250,000 legacy contribution to its nursing program. An endowed gift, King’s donation will provide student scholarships for years to come.

“When considering my philanthropy, I always think about the impact it will have on the community. I particularly thought of the nursing program, since it is new at USFSM and there is such a demand for nurses in Florida,” he said. “I have always had great respect for nurses. When my first partner was sick with cancer, I said then I have great respect for them. They work hard and they’re respectful and true caregivers.”

By supporting nursing, he said, he’s supporting USFSM’s aim to focus on STEM careers (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) as the campus looks toward adding a science and research building as well as student housing. The nursing program will debut in the fall.

“This campus provides opportunities for so many that would not otherwise have the opportunity for an education,” said King, who retired to Sarasota 17 years ago. “As it is growing now, I would like to see the campus offer as many educational opportunities as possible.”

He credits solid friendships with former Regional Chancellor Dr. Arthur Guilford and boosters Dr. Anila Jain and Bill Mariotti for introducing him to the USFSM family. He holds one other USFSM family member in especially high esteem: Schoenbaum. King’s gift to the campus is presented in her honor.

“It’s Betty’s influence that inspired my philanthropy,” he said.

For more information about planned giving, please contact Lee Williams at (941) 359-4582.

Military Organization Supports Scholarship Fund

USF Sarasota-Manatee is offering its heartfelt thanks to the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) Sarasota chapter for its recent support of student veterans.

MOAA representatives Brian McCarthy, chairman and president of MOAA’s Sarasota chapter, and Claire Power, chair of MOAA’s scholarship committee, recently visited USFSM to present a $3,000 check to establish a student-veteran scholarship.

“This is just something we wanted to do to help out our local veterans,” McCarthy, RADM, SC, USN (Ret), said in presenting the donation. “We hope this helps with expenses not covered under the students’ military benefits.”

Veteran’s Administration benefits typically pay veterans’ tuition costs but not incidental expenses for books, software and other items necessary for college. MOAA’s assistance, which will be allocated in the form of a scholarship, will help offset those costs.

“We want to be very engaged with our local veterans and this is just one of the ways we can help,” McCarthy said.

USFSM unveils Robert P. Bartz Memorial Scholarship

An ardent supporter of local business. A consensus builder. Passionately dedicated to family, friends and community.

Last year’s passing of Manatee County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Robert Paul “Bob” Bartz produced an outpouring of condolences and warm recollections.

In a ceremony this past January to honor Bartz’s legacy, the Manatee Chamber of Commerce unveiled the Robert P. Bartz Award for Outstanding Leadership. Also in his honor, USF Sarasota-Manatee Regional Chancellor Dr. Karen Holbrook presented the Beta Gamma Sigma Award to Bartz’s wife, Vicki, and son, Jason.

The chamber’s president for 35 years, Bartz was more than an advocate for local business. He loved Manatee, including its educational institutions and in particular USF Sarasota-Manatee, which is why in cooperation with the Manatee Chamber and the Bartz family, USFSM is raising funds to endow a scholarship named for Bartz: the Robert P. Bartz Memorial Scholarship.

Endowing a scholarship requires $25,000 at the USFSM campus, and once that amount is secured, students will benefit. The Bartz scholarship is an open fund, and as such, anyone who knew Bartz and appreciated all that he did for Manatee County can contribute and receive a tax deduction.

Jason Bartz, a USF graduate and former pitcher for the Bulls baseball team, said his father, a Bulls season ticketholder, would have applauded the scholarship idea.

“He was very supportive of the Sarasota-Manatee campus and served on an advisory committee there,” he said. “He believed in having close connections between the chamber and the school. He thought it was important for college students to stay in this community so they can start to immediately impact local businesses when they graduate.”

Vicki Bartz said her husband was an advocate of the community as a whole, recognizing the contributions of its businesses, institutions and civic organizations. Establishing a scholarship in his name in the College of Business was one way – a lasting way – to express that support.

 “He loved his job and loved this community,” Vicki Bartz said. “I was honored when this idea was brought to me and thought it was something he would have loved. The fact that the community has embraced it the way they have also shows how much love they had for Bob.”

The scholarship will be for juniors, seniors and graduate students enrolled in the College of Business, but any major can apply. It can be awarded and renewed for up to four semesters. Students receiving financial aid are preferred. Recipients must maintain a certain grade point average.

The idea emerged out of chamber discussions last year about ways to honor Bartz. Neil Spirtas, who works in Career Services at USFSM and previously worked at the chamber, suggested a memorial scholarship and brought the idea to Dr. James Curran, dean of the College of Business, who gave his blessing. Eventually, the idea came before Dr. Holbrook, the Campus Board and Vicki and Jason Bartz, who also endorsed the idea.

“Bob Bartz epitomized professionalism and was all about integrity,” said Spirtas, who regarded Bartz a friend and mentor. “Honoring him with a scholarship is a memorable way to uplift his name and bear witness to what he stood for. Every time a new scholarship is awarded, the recipient and the community will hear his name mentioned, continuing his legacy.”

To contribute to the Robert P. Bartz Memorial Scholarship, please visit or call Lee Williams at (941) 359-4582.

Meet Brunch co-chairs Bob Turner and Lauren Henry

Brunch on the Bay, USF Sarasota-Manatee’s signature fundraising event, supports local students with scholarships, creates a workforce pipeline and helps shape tomorrow’s community leaders.

“It’s so important to support Brunch on the Bay because it creates an ongoing workforce; it helps students get jobs in this community,” said Bob Turner, a USF alum and former publisher of the Bradenton Herald.

Turner and recent USFSM alum Lauren Henry are this year’s co-chairs of the Brunch on the Bay organizing committee.

They say the annual soiree casts a spotlight not just on USFSM programs but on local businesses and individuals who each year give selflessly to support college scholarships. The event also represents a highlight on the social calendar, with entertainment and the area’s finest restaurants and beverage vendors right here on campus.

“I see so much potential in what this university has to offer in terms of partnering with businesses and leaders in our community,” said Henry, a 2016 graduate. “And so Brunch on the Bay is a culmination of that, where the university and community come together and support the cause of higher education.”

Brunch on the Bay is more personal to Henry than most.

As a student, she benefitted directly from scholarships and understands the impact they pose to students juggling school and work demands while trying to pay for tuition, books and other necessities of college. She also served as a Student Ambassador at several Brunch events, enabling her to meet USFSM’s generous donors firsthand.

“I’ve experienced all of that myself and I think the biggest thing for me now is to be able to invest in the next generation by giving them the opportunity of a college degree,” said Henry, who mentors young leaders through Artios, LLC, a company she co-founded with her sister, Candice. “I’m extremely flattered and I feel so privileged to serve during such a momentous occasion.”

This year’s Brunch is shaping up to be extra special as it marks the event’s 25th anniversary.

With planning for the Nov.  4 celebration well underway, Henry said she can’t reveal too much except to note, “We have an amazing team,” and, “Be on the watch for new and exciting elements. It’s going to be the best Brunch on the Bay yet.”

For more about Brunch of the Bay, including tickets and table sponsorships, visit

USFSM to debut accelerated master’s degrees

USF Sarasota-Manatee is offering students in two academic programs an opportunity to earn master’s degrees in one year.

Starting this fall, students enrolled in the criminology and hospitality management programs will have the option to pursue their master’s degrees while still enrolled as undergraduates.

These new “Accelerated Master’s Programs” are designed to provide qualifying students the opportunity to take graduate courses while still registered as juniors and seniors, then after graduation enroll as graduate students to complete their master’s degrees in one year.

“This is a new program that is designed to offer hospitality (and criminology) students a world-class education while at the same time saving them both time and money,” said Dr. Faizan Ali, an assistant professor who oversees the accelerated master’s program in the College of Hospitality & Tourism Leadership.

“These students will be able to obtain their master’s degree in half the time and enter the job market better qualified and better educated than many of their contemporaries,” he said. 

Under the programs’ guidelines, only high-achieving students can apply. Admission will be limited to undergraduate students with an overall 3.3 Grade Point Average (3.5 GPA in hospitality and criminology courses).

As an added convenience, all of the programs’ graduate-level classes will be online to allow students the option to study after work or on weekends in whatever setting they prefer. Hospitality students will have the additional option to attend classes or watch the sessions on their computer in real-time.

Accelerated master’s programs are not unusual as more universities and colleges explore online options and other technologies.

“The introduction of accelerated master’s degrees is a win-win,” said Dr. James Unnever, a criminology professor and the program’s coordinator in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. “The communities we serve will receive a more knowledgeable workforce while the students we serve save time and money – both precious resources.

Research looks at benefits when vets volunteer

Dr. Eric Hodges was working on his doctorate when he noticed a phenomenon among returning veterans: that record numbers were volunteering for community service.

“Vets were actively trying to seek out and rebuild the community and sense of purpose they lost when they got out,” said Hodges, an assistant professor of interdisciplinary social sciences at USF Sarasota-Manatee. “That insight led me to consider the role civic engagement can play in helping veterans reintegrate when they come home.”

Expanding on this idea, he launched a study that explores why veterans tend to become engaged in their communities.

According to social science literature, a person needs three things to be civically engaged: skills, desire and opportunity. Hodges found that military service strengthens community-oriented values and provides skills that can benefit society. This understanding also lined up with his own experiences as a returning veteran (Marine Corps).

Currently, Dr. Hodges is conducting a study in Manatee County that considers how civic engagement impacts veterans’ quality of life.

“If my research finds that community engagement helps veterans reintegrate, then maybe changes can be made at the local, state or federal level,” he said. “I’m not directly trying to influence policy, but once I find accurate information, I think it should be shared with policymakers to inform their process.”

Already, a number of veteran-sponsored organizations – including The Mission Continues – match vets with volunteer opportunities. By connecting with policymakers, perhaps additional public-private partnerships can be created to encourage more community engagement among veterans.

To contribute to the Veterans Research Fund, please visit or call Lee Williams at (941) 359-4582.

USFSM Night at Marauders game

Friday, July 20, is “USF Sarasota-Manatee Night” at the Bradenton Marauders game at Lecom Park, 1611 Ninth Street West in downtown Bradenton.

Students, staff, faculty and alumni are encouraged to attend this fun event celebrating USFSM and minor league baseball. Watch as the mighty hometown favorites, the Bradenton Marauders, take on the Daytona Tortugas. Gates open at 5:30 p.m. First pitch at 6:30.

Each “Boardwalk BBQ Ticket” costs only $23 and includes all-you-can-eat hot dogs, burgers, cookies, chips, soft drinks, bottled water and a Marauders hat.

Tickets at The purchase deadline is July 11 at 11:59 p.m.