J. Michael Francis

Town and Gown Winter Luncheon to feature Florida Studies Professor J. Michael Francis on Ponce de Leon

USF St. Petersburg History Professor J. Michael Francis, one of the nation’s leading experts on the Spanish colonial experience in Florida, will discuss the 500th anniversary of Juan Ponce de Leon’s arrival during the Winter Luncheon of Town and Gown on Friday, Jan. 25.

Dr. Francis, the Hough Family Endowed Chair in Florida Studies, will deliver a talk titled “Imagining La Florida: History, Myth, and Commemoration.”

The luncheon meeting begins at 11:30 a.m. in Harbor Hall Gallery, 1000 3rd Street S. The luncheon costs $20 and is open to the public.

In his talk, Dr. Francis will explore the historical legacies of Spain’s colonization of the land Ponce de Leon named La Florida and the complex interactions among Europeans, Africans and Indians that helped shape modern Florida.

Dr. Francis received his Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge. He has received more than two dozen state, national and international honors, including a four-year appointment as a research fellow at the American Museum of Natural History in New York and a research fellow at the Library of Congress. U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar appointed Dr. Francis as one of only two historians on the St. Augustine 450th Commemoration Commission.

“We are so excited to have Dr. Francis as our guest speaker,” said Betty Jean Miller, president of USFSP Town and Gown, a non-profit organization that promotes understanding and friendship between the university and the community. “His passion for early Florida history brings that important period to life.”

For more information, please call Alexis Searfoss at (727) 873-4519