USF Students Welcome New Living Community

Every university has those infamous dorms – built decades ago – that the university is still leasing out to students each year. USF’s version of these dorms are in the Andros community, and after 50 years, Andros is finally being remodeled.

Some of the big changes include new and improved dorms, retail stores and even an on-campus Publix grocery store. Carolina Zapatas, a current resident, welcomes the changes.

“Knocking all this down is better for the new students because it will bring new opportunities and nicer living areas,” said Zapatas.

Not only will the dorms be nicer but they will also house 1000 more students. Creating bigger dorms is an attempt by USF to get more students to live on campus, and to get away from the university’s “commuter school” reputation.

Adding retail stores and an on-campus grocery store are incentives for students to live on campus because everything they need will be walking distance.

“I think it’s a great idea that they are building a Publix on campus so all the students living on campus who don’t have cars, can just walk there and won’t have to worry or take a bus,” said former Andros resident Isabella Wilson.

There has been no official confirmation of which retail stores will be available on campus, but the Publix will be built by the end of 2017.

 

 

Florida Focus Health Brief Sep. 30, 2016

In this episode: Florida earned an “F” in medical transparency, making it difficult for patients to compare prices and services among heath care providers; University of South Florida Professor Juan Sanchez-Ramos is using a nasal spray to treat Huntington’s Disease; the demand for home caregivers is increasing in Florida as the baby boomer population continues to age; Florida schools would need to triple the number of registered nurses to meet the recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics; hospitals in the Bay Area are now available for virtual care through websites and mobile apps.

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USF’s Solar Energy Fair

On Saturday Mar. 26, the Solar Energy Society at USF held their annual Solar Energy Fair. It is an event created to help teach the Tampa community about the latest innovations and technologies offered around the city. At this year’s event, there were Question and Answer panels with University professors and specialists; however, the true heart of the event lies with the students who make it all possible.

This year, two USF graduates presented their research to the public in order to share their new ideas. “I have always been a solar enthusiast,” said Arun Kumar. “I hope that these technologies and my research can be used in Third World countries to help other people.”

New breakthroughs are also coming from female students, such as Francesca Moloney who said: “From an early age I knew I wanted to focus my career on something in the environment.”

Both of these students hope to take their research and implement them at the university and across the Tampa Bay area. If their research and innovations succeed, they hope to apply them around the world. They aspire to build awareness in the community about the research being conducted, so that people can make wiser choices in their everyday lives.

Author James Morrow gives lecture at USF

On Monday, March 21, 2016 renowned science fiction author, James Morrow, will be visiting USF to discuss his new novel, “Galapagos Regained”.

Morrow will be giving a lecture on the fourth floor of USF’s library at 6:00 p.m. where he will discuss issues of science, religion, and pop culture. Joining Morrow will be fellow science fiction author and USF professor, Rick Wilbur.

“I’ve been in the science fiction community for a long time,” said Wilbur. “Getting Morrow to do this lecture was as easy as some scheduling and making phone calls to a comrade.”

After a small amount of aligning schedules between Wilbur, the university, and Morrow, the author is set to discuss his latest novel as a part of USF’s humanities institute’s lecture series.

“I urge all students who can make it to attend Morrow’s lecture,” said Wilbur. “He’s an incredible author and this is a great opportunity to discuss contemporary issues with a knowledgeable professional.”

Morrow, a self-proclaimed scientific humanist, is an author famous for his unconventional historical novels, which often examine the intertwining concepts of religion and science. His latest novel, “Galapagos Regained” plot centers on a Victorian adventurer who decides to repeat the voyages of Charles Darwin.

Anyone, whether a student, faculty or community member, will be able to attend both Morrow’s lecture and the event’s reception and book signing free of cost.

USF alumni eats like a caveman

 A young entrepreneur has taken her passion for eating healthy and combined it with her passion for cookies to create her own company Base Culture. This company is not like any other sweets retailer that sales brownies and banana bread; all of the products are paleo friendly, meaning they follow the popular Paleo Diet.

“The Paleo Diet is nicknamed the caveman diet for a reason” says Base Culture founder Jordann Windschauer, “If you were to follow the Paleo Diet, you eat meat, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and fruit.” Windschauer praises the diet and even goes on to say that she felt “more alive than ever and had more energy than she had had in years.”

While the Paleo Diet did have its ups it also had its downs. Windschauer enjoyed the new found energy boost, but she also missed all the sweets she used to eat.

“You know it got really hard not being able to just grab banana bread on the way to work in the morning. I looked for products that could satisfy my sweet tooth but would also satisfy paleo requirements but there were none” said Windschauer. It was that same day she took matters into her own hand and stated creating “sweets” that were made solely from seeds, nuts, and fruits.

She then took her paleo friendly sweets she baked to her local gym to share with her friends and they became an instant hit. People soon began offering compensation for her products, and overnight the company Base Culture was created.

Many customers have claimed to not even taste the difference between paleo friendly brownies and regular brownies. “I just tasted it and it’s actually really good and it’s awesome that it’s really healthy” said satisfied customer Lexi Ashby.

The idea of paleo friendly products has taken the market by force. Since the company’s beginning in 2013, Base Culture products are now available in over 50 stores nationwide and will soon be available in Walmart.

 

 

 

 

Florida Focus News Brief April 5, 2016

In this episode: Pinellas schools are facing a federal civil rights review; a new way to buy used cars is coming to the Bay Area; a house fire in Brandon exposes a marijuana grow house; brain training exercises may help senior drivers keep their licenses longer; Sun n’ Fun begins today at Lakeland.

 

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Florida Focus News Brief March 29, 2016

In this episode a tanker leaves one person dead and 1-75 closed for hours; Wawa is seeking to hire thousands of workers in six states; One-hundred-fifty-five Pinellas students will receive college scholarships tomorrow; and The Straz Center plans on expanding onto the Hillsborough River.

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Getting social with the USF brand

Social media has never been more prevalent in college and professional sports than it is today. At the University of South Florida, Mike Farrell is the man behind the computer screen.

“A lot of it is one, developing a voice for our social channels and then two creating content that’s going to engage our fanbase,” Farrell said.

As the Director of Digital Content, Farrell is in charge of churning out vines, tweets, pictures and more across all of USF Athletics’ social media platforms every day.

“One of the things we want to do and want to push is to create stuff that is engaging, stuff that people want to consume, share, retweet and help spread the brand,” Farrell said.

One of the most important days for any athletic department each year is National Signing Day. Student athletes from all over the country officially sign with the school of their choosing. The content created by Farrell and his team made waves on a national level, including an appearance on Yahoo! Sports Dr. Saturday blog.

“This year in particular we had a couple national organizations, blogs, write about some of the things that we did,” Farrell said. “It was a lot of hard work, a lot of people put in a lot, a lot of hours for what’s really just a glorified morning. But I do think that it pays dividends in the end.”

The work Farrell puts in on a daily basis is critical to the growing online presence that is USF Athletics.

“For a large subset of our fans, if you don’t have that presence, you’re irrelevant,” Senior Associate Director of Athletics Andrew Goodrich said.

Even though Farrell is fully focused on the day-to-day task of enhancing USF Athletics’ presence online, he doesn’t lose sight of the big picture.

“When one person leaves, somebody else can come in and there’s no drop,” Farrell said. “That’s the USF brand. That’s the USF Athletics brand. That’s the USF football brand. There’s no change. That needs to be a constant.”

 

 

 

Poetry fights against black on black crime

 

Andrea Little and Hector Angus are not your typical college students. They are owners of a grocery store, 1 Apple Grocery.

The University of South Florida students put their money together to help a low-income neighborhood thrive in this “food desert.”

Phil Scott has been president of Black on Black Rhyme Tampa for the last three years.  The poetry troop is the longest running in the Tampa area.

The troop assembles every third Friday of every month at Joffrey’s Coffee House. Their aim is to help the people in the poorer side of the community be able to express themselves in a healthy way.

When asked, “is it worth it,” Phil Scott answers, “Undoubtedly. From the neighborhood that I come from, it’s vital to our survival as a community, in order to have these outlets for us”.

Located at the corner of 8th and 15th street in downtown Ybor, Joffrey’s Coffee House hosts the Black on Black Rhyme shows every third Friday of each month.

Phil Scott is FAMU graduate, obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree in Science and Music. He is currently the band director at Van Buren Middle School.

He says, “I didn’t choose Black on Black, Black on Black really chose me.  It was kinda like they just welcomed me with open arms”.

Black on Black Rhyme Tampa show times are available on the Tampa Bay Poetry page on Facebook. Be sure to check out there show this Saturday evening at 8:30 p.m.

Florida Focus News Brief Feb. 10, 2016

In this episode: a student was arrested for loading a gun on a school bus, a shoplifter’s death is ruled a homicide, arrests are made in a string of car burglaries, a stolen car is crashed through a house, and the Medical Center of Trinity is lighting up red.

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Students Escape Stress at USF Botanical Gardens

Located just steps from some of the most popular spots on the University of South Florida campus lies a hidden gem, the USF Botanical Gardens.

From whimsical plant displays and breathtaking views of the water to educational facilities, the gardens have been offering a wide variety of services to USF students for over three decades.

The gardens were established in 1969 and were used primarily as a research and education facility. Throughout the 1970’s the biology department was the only educational group to conduct research within the gardens.

It wasn’t until the mid-1980’s that the area was expanded, incorporating the palm garden, wetland forest and many of the other displays seen today. During this expansion period university staff aimed to create an area that all students could use. Garden Director Laurie Walker says that today almost every college utilizes the space.

“We have classes from the college of fine arts, arts and sciences and engineering,” Walker said.

However, as the gates opened to the public in the 1990’s the gardens shifted to incorporate aspects of relaxation and recreation.

“We also have picnic tables, benches, beautiful places to sit and relax and study or have lunch drawing in the public for a unique look at Florida’s natural beauty,” Walker said.

University of South Florida sophomore Mack Galdames says it is the perfect place for him to take a break from the stress of school work.

“I usually come out here by the lake and sometimes just stare or I’ll read a book or play guitar,” Galdames said. “It’s just a wonderful peaceful place. It’s isolated and it’s not isolated, it’s got a balance to it.”

Ms. USF, Phyllis P. Marshall

Tampa, Fla. – Phyllis P. Marshall is the backbone of the University of South Florida. She was there from the very beginning in 1960.

Marshall lived in the first student union called the University Center. She was essentially the first resident assistant on campus. The girls’ dorms were on the fourth floor of the building.

President John Allen wanted the focus of the school to be on academics and merits, not any social aspects.

“He and the other deans and the other students did not want beauty contests, popularity contests  and they didn’t want Greek organizations either,” Andrew Huse, associate librarian at USF said.

Huse said Marshall was an advocate for students. “If she didn’t go to the event, they might not have been able to have the event.”

Marshall is known as “Ms. USF” for her involvement with students. Among many ideas, she helped advocate for students to bank at the credit union. In her mind, it was not fair for students that did not have transportation.

“I think she was an advocate for integrating students with the university.” Huse said.

The University Center was later named the Marshall Student Center in 1994 to coincide with Marshall’s retirement.

A rising club at USF: Eudaimonia

Eudaimonia is a new and rising club at USF giving out free hugs to all who want one every Nov.14.

Jonathon Burroughs, the founder of Eudaimonia, began the club to commemorate a friend who committed suicide on the same day four years ago.

“I started this doing this to commemorate my friend who lost his life to suicide,” Burroughs said. “I do this for him, but some of the other members do it to just spread joy.”

Burroughs started giving out free hugs without the University’s approval, but soon got the go-ahead to continue when he received positive feedback from students.

“Sometimes you do things and you perpetuate events, and you don’t see the results,” Burroughs said. “But the results are there and it’s powerful. For me, it is about believing in the idea that what I’m doing has results that are powerful, even though I don’t see them.”

Public-private partnerships on the rise at Florida universities

More college campuses in the state of Florida have started to form public-private partnerships, to build a maintain residence halls and other facilities on campus.

This is a result of a bill signed by Gov. Rick Scott in 2013. Scott signed the bill to allow public entities such as counties, school boards and universities to enter partnerships with private companies to build facilities “used predominately for a public purpose,”

These public-private partnerships (P3s) allow universities to pass off the responsibility of construction and management of facilities to a private company that specializes in those areas.

“With the right partner, a university gets to transfer risk off to the partner,” Anthony Barbar, chairman of the Board of Governors at Florida Atlantic University and President and CEO of Barbar & Associates, LLC, a real estate consulting firm, said. “[The private partner] is responsible for maintaining the buildings, they handle marketing, it helps the real estate project run more efficiently.”

Other Florida universities have already used P3s to build on-campus housing, parking lots and retail shops. Florida Atlantic University completed Phase I of its Innovation Village Apartments in fall 2011 through a partnership with Balfour Beatty Campus Solutions and Capstone Development. This project resulted in more than 1,200 new beds on campus. Phase II is expected to begin in 2015, and is to include an additional 1,200 beds.

At Florida International University’s Biscayne Bay campus, construction of Bayview Student Living is underway to add an additional 400 beds. It is expected to open in fall 2016 through a partnership with Servitas property management and construction services.

“They used to have an old 1960s building with maintenance problems and old systems,” Angel Rivera, Director of Development at Servitas said, “Now they’re going to have cutting edge student housing with modern technology that really fits modern students.”

USF plans to use a P3 to construct the new Andros Village, which will replace the current but outdated Andros residence halls on campus. Although the plans are not finalized, the village will be a partnership with Capstone Development Partners and Harrison Street Real Estate Capital. The first phase of the project is expected to be completed by fall 2017.

The proposed on-campus Publix supermarket that would be built near the Andros complex would be a P3 as well.

Improving student life on campus seems to be the central focus of the P3 projects at universities. Barbar believes that focusing on students’ on-campus housing experience and being able to provide them a space to adequately prepare academically for the workforce is the main goal of P3s.

“The aim of new housing is less resort-style and more being sensitive to students’ needs and wants. In the past we were oblivious to what students wanted, it was just, ‘this is what we have’,” Barbar said, “Now it factors into decisions of where students choose to attend.”

Rivera also says using P3s for dorm buildings positively impacts student life.

“Students get cutting edge student housing. They get the right areas they need for studying, they get areas for entertainment. And they should have areas for that. This is their home,” Rivera said, “And rent will be more affordable than it would be to live off campus in Miami.”

Public-private partnerships are becoming more commonplace at universities across the state and the country. New ideas to improve student life are what push the innovation of these P3 systems forward.

“If you pick the right partner and have the right practice, it works out great for the student, the university and the private company,” Barbar said, “It’s just the beginning and as a system we’re still trying to figure out what it means for the future.”

From humbling beginnings to a bustling university

Just about everything great has humble beginnings. The University of South Florida is no different. When USF opened in the fall of 1960, it only had three buildings – the Administration building, the University Center and the Chemistry building.

The University Center doubled as a dorm for women back then but has since been torn down, the Marshall Student center now takes its place. MSC is now a central gathering location for all students on campus. According to USF student Kaysha Alvarez, ”MSC is a great meeting place for all people on a campus as large and diverse as our own.”

At the time, the Chemistry building housed all departments. Interesting enough, you can teach any subject in a chemistry building but you can only teach chemistry in a chemistry building.

Unlike UF and FSU, USF was the first state university built in an area that was already a bustling city, completely different from Tallahassee or Gainesville. “When I came here 27 years ago, this campus was a desert, not a University,” Gerry G. Meisels, Professor of Chemistry and Director, says. When the University began, all the land that is now home to the USF buildings, was barren and blowing sand was a huge problem.

The University started with 900 students and today the system serves 36,000. USF not only had students full of pride, we were also the first school in the state with air conditioned buildings.

Feed-A-Bull food pantry makes a big hit among students

 

Tampa, Fla.—The Feed-A-Bull food pantry gives emergency aid to students who are struggling to afford food.

Feed-A-Bull is a food pantry started by the Office of Student Outreach and Support (SOS), Wellness Education, and Feeding America USF. It is open on Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and Wednesdays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

“We really want our students to use the pantry more than once if they need to,” the senior case manager for SOS, Callie Nettles, said.  “It is on an emergency need basis, and we hope that’s honored, but we don’t want any reason for the students not to come back if they need to.”

Students who need to use the food pantry must have their USF ID or a valid U-number.  They must also be enrolled in classes.

Students who use the food pantry receive prepared bags of food that are made by volunteers. Students with dietary restrictions or allergies may have food items substituted in their bags.

Feeding America USF Vice President Neesha Hira said that a lot of students have already used the food pantry.

“A lot of people come – boys and girls of different ethnicities,” Hira said.  “It’s nothing to be ashamed of.”

Nettles said that Feed-A-Bull has received a positive response from students; some have even wanted to give back to the food pantry by volunteering.

“I’m really impacted by USF and how supportive it has been,” Nettles said. “It really seems to be a community that has got each other’s backs. Between the students that have been utilizing it and have wanted to give back, the students who want to donate or do food drives, and the faculty and staff who want to support the initiative, it has just been overwhelming.”

Increase in gun-related crime around Tampa makes USF sophomore wary

University of South Florida sophomore Emily Stencil never imagined she would feel unsafe around her own home.

Stencil, who has lived in apartments off campus during both of her years at USF, takes her dog Roxie for a walk every day she comes home from school. She then rides her bike if the sun is shining, and occasionally makes the 5-minute walk to campus.

Now, however, Stencil is beginning to rethink her routine, because of fear for her safety.

“I’ve never been afraid of leaving my doors unlocked or walking my neighborhood alone,” Stencil said. “Now, I’m afraid to leave my house past 8 o’clock.”

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According to Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor, there have been 235 gun-related crimes this year, up from 164 during this time last year.

The increase in crimes also includes 15 homicides — more than double the amount of this time last year.

Gun theft also has drastically increased since last year. According to TPD, 117 guns were stolen this year. That’s 65 more than this time last year.

Most eye-opening of all is that in the 10 days prior to March 23, 10 teenagers died from shootings.

One case involved a 14-year-old male who was shot and killed at a birthday party on March 21. Police estimate that dozens witnessed the crime, but none have come forward with information.

In another case March 14, Tampa teen Ikeim Bowell was killed in what was ruled an accidental shooting by the department.

According to the Tampa Tribune, a group of Bowell’s friends found a gun in a relative’s house they assumed was unloaded. But shortly after they started playing with it, the gun went off and shot Bowell in the neck.

“In the majority of the cases, witnesses and even victims are reluctant to cooperate with detectives,” Castor said in a statement. “The Tampa Police Department is urging citizens to get involved to stop the violence.”

Castor used a March 16 news conference to encourage members of the public to speak up if they have any information.

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While gun-related crimes have risen in the city, major crimes on USF’s Tampa campus have dropped in the past four years.

According to the USF Police Department, in 2010 the crime rate dropped more than 19 percent from the previous year.

The USF Police Department reports that crimes such as murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault and burglary have dropped 45 percent, but arrests have increased 52 percent.

USF Police lieutenant Marty King credited the improved efforts of officers for the drop in on-campus crime.

According to a release, more DUI checkpoints were added to areas surrounding campus. Officers also underwent extensive training, and a stronger traffic enforcement has led to the decrease in crimes.

The clearance rate, which is the number of reported cases successfully solved, has increased every year.

“Most importantly is the partnership we have with our community,” King said. “This partnership allows our campus community many options to report suspicious activity or crimes in progress. These efforts, coupled with the crime prevention initiatives we provide, can all play a factor in reducing crime.”

Still, Stencil is worried.

If the crime rate continues to increase, Stencil said she will consider moving on-campus to a dormitory, where she hopes she will be safer.

“It’s not something I want to do,” Stencil said. “But if it can save my life, I’m going to do it.”

Video: Office of Multicultural Affairs aimed to promote gender equality by celebrating Women’s History Month in March

The Office of Multicultural Affairs helped spread the word about Women’s History Month in March.

The office set up a booth in the atrium of the Marshall Student Center with stacks of blank cards for students to fill out with their reasons for why they support women. Free pins were also handed out to help spread awareness around campus.

According to Caitlin Jones, a coordinator for the LGBT programs and services for the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the objective of the event was for students and other passersby to understand the importance of the movement.

“Why does this matter?” Jones said.  “Why do people support women? Have people even thought about why they support women? So, we’re using this to start that thought process.”

Throughout the event, many people stopped by to offer their thoughts. At the end,  all completed cards were hung up along the office’s window on the third floor of the Marshall Center.

“Supporting women is more than wage equality,” Jones said. “It’s more than saying, ‘Oh, yes, women are important to me,’ but actually looking at class and race and some other pieces to be able to say, women matter.

“They deserve the same rights. The same equality. The same equity. And I’m willing to stand up and do that.”

Video: C.R. Willey brings championship pedigree to USF disc golf team

C.R. Willey is not your average USF coach. He is a four-time disc golf champion.

And with Willey’s help, the USF disc golf team has a chance at the top 10 this year and — possibly — a national title.

Willey, a veteran of the Professional Disc Golf Association, has trained some of the top professionals in the league, including 12-time champion, Ken Climo.

“It’s nice that you are actually learning from somebody that has actually won (championships),” said Chris Crist, USF’s team founder and captain.  “He’s been playing for so long. He’s taught a lot of people how to play and a lot of pros how to play.”

While Willey was on the PDGA tour, he was approached by some of USF’s players, who asked him if he would be interested in coaching the team.

Willey didn’t hesitate in saying yes.

“Heck, yeah,” Willey said. “I would like to see USF win a national championship in disc golf. I’d like to see them win it in football, too — baseball or anything for the university. Let’s take it to the next level.”

Willey also played baseball at USF for a time. But one day, when he saw students playing ultimate frisbee, Willey knew his love and passion was for disc golf.

With more than 40 PDGA victories, he is considered the best thing that has happened to USF by its young group of players.

“We’ve qualified for the National Collegiate Championship, and we almost beat the reigning champs in a qualifying tournament that the USF team ran in Largo,” Willey said.

The National Collegiate Disc Golf Championship starts on April 15 in North Augusta, South Carolina.