Florida Studies nature writing series planned at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve

USF St. Petersburg Associate Professor of English Thomas Hallock, Ph.D., is organizing a series of public readings and discussions at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve this spring focused on nature writing. They will read selections from their non-fiction work.

Associate Professor of English Thomas Hallock, Ph.D. | Photo by Aaron Alper, '12.

Associate Professor of English Thomas Hallock, Ph.D. | Student Photo by Aaron Alper, ’12.

Titled “Writers in the Preserve,’’ this three-day series is organized around the theme, “How Do We Find Nature in the City?”

The series is co-sponsored by the USFSP Florida Studies Program, the College of Arts and Sciences and Friends of Boyd Hill Nature Preserve. It is co-organized by Boyd Hill ranger Andrea Andersen.

On February 21, Hallock joins award-winning Tampa Bay Times writer Jeff Klinkenberg, journalist Cathy Salustri, a USFSP Florida Studies graduate, and Wendy Joan Biddlecombe, a staff writer for Hernando Today/Tampa Tribune and a USFSP journalism master’s graduate.

On March 28, poets Gianmarc Manzione, Gloria Muñoz and Brian Duncan will lead a poetry night hike through the Preserve.

The series concludes on April 11 with “13 Ways of Looking at a City: Community Gathering,” as writers, environmentalists and community advocates celebrate the natural and built environment of south St. Petersburg.

“This lecture series demonstrates the extraordinary talent at USF St. Petersburg and our commitment to engaging the community with provocative programming,’’ said Frank Biafora, Ph.D., dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “I commend Dr. Hallock for his creative leadership.”

Each event is free and open to the public and starts at 7 p.m. For more information contact Thomas Hallock at thallock@usfsp.edu or (727) 873-4954. Boyd Hill Nature Preserve (727-893-7326) is located at 1101 Country Club Way S. in St. Petersburg.

Graduate student creates documentary on the life and legacy of Nelson Poynter

Walter Gordon knew he faced a monumental task when he decided to create a video documentary of the late Nelson Poynter as his Master’s in Liberal Arts project.

Walt Gordon

Walt Gordon

Poynter was a giant in the newspaper industry and a tireless champion of USF St. Petersburg. When he died in 1978, he left behind a 44-foot stack of papers, documents and filmed interviews. They are housed in Special Collections at the USF St. Petersburg library that bears his name.

The Nelson Poynter Memorial Library collection had only occasional interest by researchers until Gordon decided to dig in.

Gordon, a fall 2012 graduate, spent all last summer poring through the collection. The result is a 30-minute documentary about the man who turned the St. Petersburg Times (now the Tampa Bay Times) into one of the most distinguished newspapers in the country.

“I could have made an hours-long documentary on Poynter,” Gordon said. “He had such an interesting life.”

Born in Indiana on Dec. 5, 1903, Poynter knew at an early age that journalism would be his life-long career. His father bought the St. Petersburg Times in 1912 and Poynter wrote his first story for the Times in 1914. In 1938 he became the general manager of the Times. Before that he was the editor and publisher of the Clearwater Sun and the Kokomo (Ind.) Dispatch . Poynter later acquired the St. Petersburg Evening Independent, which folded in 1986, and founded Congressional Quarterly, an influential legislative news service.

He is perhaps best known for leaving the ownership of the Times to the non-profit Modern Media Institute, now the Poynter Institute, to ensure its independence. The Institute is located across the street from USF St. Petersburg.

Poynter died hours after participating in a groundbreaking at USF St. Petersburg on June 15, 1978, during which he was honored for his efforts to establish it.

James Schnur, Associate Librarian in Special Collections and Archives at the Nelson Poynter Memorial Library, suggested the Poynter documents as a subject of Gordon’s project. Schnur, who first met Gordon while teaching Florida history at Eckerd College, assisted in the documentary process.

As a librarian and graduate of USF St. Petersburg, Schnur understood the impact Poynter had on the development of the university and downtown St. Petersburg. Schnur says Gordon’s documentary is a great way for community members to understand Poynter’s significance.

“He brought Poynter in to the community,” Schnur says.

Making a documentary came naturally to Gordon, who taught TV production at Countryside High School and earned a Bachelor’s degree in history from Eckerd College.

The Poynter Papers include interviews from the 1970s and 1980s that were recorded on film and transferred to video tapes. Because of his experience with TV and film production, Gordon was able to transfer the VHS tapes into digital files in order to make the 35-minute documentary.

Gordon is a staunch advocate for combining the latest technology with other disciplines like the arts and sciences in order to expand educational capabilities.

The documents and videos along with Gordon’s annotations will be available to scholars, researchers, and students interested in learning more about Poynter and St. Petersburg history.

“Altogether, the collection constitutes an amazing amount of data that could still benefit from more research.” Gordon said.

Gordon continues to teach TV production at Countryside High School. He presented his documentary at Heritage Village for its “Speaking of History” lecture series in November. Gordon also presented a 20-minute version of the documentary at USFSP for the 65th Annual Meeting of the Southeast Philosophy of Education Society Feb. 1-2.


Olympian and USFSP grad Paige Railey

USF St. Petersburg alumna Paige Railey wins gold at World Cup

USF St. Petersburg alumna Paige Railey of Clearwater, won a gold medal in the Olympic class event “Laser Radial” sailing during the ISAF Sailing World Cup in Miami last week. It is was the same one-person boat in which Railey competed at the 2012 Olympic Games.

Railey was awarded a Business Management degree in December 2010.

Railey (’10) is a member of US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider, the national team comprised of the top athletes competing in Olympic and Paralympic class sailing. The regatta concluded Feb. 2 and Team USA took home 13 medals.

Read more details about the event.



Hough Family

Hough Family honored for civic leadership

Fall Commencement for the University of South Florida St. Petersburg on Sunday included a ceremony honoring the Hough Family for their dedication to the arts, culture and education in St. Petersburg.

The Hough Family of St. Petersburg — William and Hazel Hough and their children, Robb Hough, Susan Henry and Helen Feinberg — received the Regional Chancellor’s Award for Civic Leadership, the most prestigious honor granted by USF St. Petersburg and bestowed in recognition of outstanding contributions to the community.

The institutions the Hough Family has supported individually and collectively include USF St. Petersburg, the Museum of Fine Arts, Canterbury School, the Palladium at St. Petersburg College and the Dali Museum.

“St. Petersburg would be a diminished community without the Hough Family,” Interim Regional Chancellor Bill Hogart said in announcing the award. “Their unstinting support of the arts, culture and education are unmatched and their dedication to giving back is an inspiration to the entire community.

The Fall Class of 2012 totals 399 – 337 receiving bachelor’s degrees and 62 receiving Master’s degrees. About 260 students participated in Sunday’s commencement ceremony, which begins at 6 p.m. at the Mahaffey Theater, 400 1st Street South.

Seating at the Mahaffey is limited, so the ceremony was live-streamed to the University Student Center for those who could not attend.

The Outstanding Graduate Award went to Daniel Boyd, a College of Business student who is earning  a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting.

USF St. Petersburg 2012 Fall Commencement by the numbers

399 Total number of graduates

337 Number of students awarded bachelor’s degrees.

62 Number of students awarded Master’s degrees.

260 Number of graduates participating in Sunday’s commencement.

11: Number of students graduating Summa Cum Laude

20: Number of students graduating Magna Cum Laude

25: Number of students graduating Cum Laude

3: Number of students graduating in the Honors Program.

3: Number of students with perfect 4.0 grade point averages.



Olympian and USFSP grad Paige Railey

USF St. Petersburg alum Paige Railey goes for Olympic gold

UPDATE: U.S. Olympic Sailing Team’s Paige Railey finished 6th for 8th overall, falling short of her goal to medal in her debut Olympic bid. “I saw an improvement on things and I’m happy,” Paige told U.S. Sailing. “I finished a race well and I moved up a spot.”  She was thrilled to have been involved. This is Railey’s first Olympic Games. “It hit me today when I was on the water and looked up at the American flag on my sail,” she said. “It was a moment for me where I was really proud. I was representing my country, everyone back home and everyone here, the staff, the coaches, the U.S.O.C.”


USF St. Petersburg graduate Paige Railey (2010) is competing in the London Olympics as a member of the U.S. sailing team.

Paige, who was awarded a Business Management degree in December 2010, is a first-time Olympian. She was born in St. Petersburg and grew up in Clearwater. She races with her brother, Zach.

She has been sailing since she was 8 years old. She has been a member of the U.S. Sailing team since 2005. Her brother went to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, but she missed out. They were excited to be able to compete in the London Olympics on the same team. She competes in the Laser Radial class.

USA Sailing reports that Paige had another strong showing in the Laser Radial on Wednesday, placing seventh overall.  Conditions were rugged.  “It was tough,” she told USA Sailing. “There was a lot of thinking involved. All I could think about is two good results to move up.” Six races have been completed so far and racing resumes Friday. “I’m moving up slowly; there are still four more races and a medal race,” said Railey. “If I keep going like that you never know what can happen.”

You can follow the sailing team’s progress on Twitter and Facebook.