Nabil Matar (left) and Dennis Thompson.

Honors Program presents lecture series to ‘Celebrate the Liberal Arts’

The USF St. Petersburg Honors Program is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a special lecture series that reflects the theme of the anniversary, “Celebrate the Liberal Arts.”

Dennis Thompson, Ph.D., the Alfred North Whitehead Professor of Political Philosophy Emeritus at Harvard University, will discuss “Science, Ethics and Democracy” on Thursday, Jan. 23, at 4 p.m. at the University Student Center Ballroom. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Nabil Matar, Ph.D., the Presidential Professor of Arts & Humanities at the University of Minnesota, will discuss “The Arabic Legacy in Western Thought” on Monday, March 3 at 3:30 p.m. at the University Student Center Ballroom. The lecture is free and open to the public.

“The liberal arts are at the core of the Honors Program but there is a lot of confusion about what that means,’’ said Thomas Smith, Ph.D., Honors Program director and associate professor of government and international affairs. “The liberal arts are about developing critical thinking and fostering our capacities for reason, judgment and scientific inquiry. They provide the intellectual tools to be engaged citizens.’’

Both speakers will discuss issues that go to the heart of what the liberal arts are all about, Smith said.

Thompson, the author of eight books and founding director of the Harvard University Center for Ethics, will underscore the importance for scientists to understand the ethical implications of their work. Matar will explore the transmission of ideas from the Arab world into western thought.

“This spring lecture series underscores an important part of the mission of the Honors Program at USF St. Petersburg,’’ said Frank Biafora, Ph.D., dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “It brings together nationally recognized thought leaders discussing provocative topics that will both challenge and enlighten our students and the public.”

The Honors Program will also present the Second Annual St. Petersburg Conference on International Affairs Feb. 13-15 at the University Student Center Ballroom. The conference, featuring 15 panels of distinguished experts from across the country discussing the critical international issues of the day, is free and open to the public.

Complimentary parking for the Honors Program events will be available at the USFSP parking garage, 260 5th Ave S, St Petersburg. For more information about these events please call (727) 873-4872.

The Honors Program offers academically gifted, highly motivated students an exciting and diverse college experience that enhances their undergraduate education. This year, about 100 students comprise a thriving, close-knit, diverse academic community. Students receive individual attention from a distinguished faculty in small, seminar-style classes. Read more about the Honors Program.


WUSF General Manager JoAnn Urofsky (left to right), Regional Chancellor Sophia Wisniewska and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman cut the ribbon for the WUSF St. Petersburg Studio.

WUSF opens its first St. Petersburg Studio at USFSP

WUSF Public Media, in partnership with USF St. Petersburg, has opened a new broadcast studio at USFSP, providing students a new opportunity to work with award-winning journalists.

A crowd of more than 50 people attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday, Jan. 10, including St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, USFSP Regional Chancellor Sophia Wisniewska, WUSF Partners Board members and executives, and local business and community leaders.

The event took place in the Courtyard of the Peter Rudy Wallace Florida Center for Teachers at USF St. Petersburg, home to the Department of Journalism and Media Studies and the new WUSF St. Petersburg Studio.

“Having an award-winning NPR affiliate on our campus is something we should all be proud of. WUSF sets a high standard for journalism in the Tampa Bay area,” said Wisniewska. “It will also be an excellent opportunity for our journalism students, who can gain valuable on-air experience, working closely with seasoned professionals. I particularly look forward to the stories our students produce through the Neighborhood News Bureau in Midtown, an important part of this city where Mayor Kriseman is focusing much needed attention.”

JoAnn Urofsky, general manager of WUSF Public Media, expressed pride in the new partnership with USFSP. “The new studio space will provide us with expanded news presence in both St. Petersburg and Pinellas County,” she said, “as well as an opportunity to work with students in the USF St. Petersburg graduate journalism program.”

The studio has working space for WUSF’s reporters, allowing them to file stories on deadline from a Pinellas County location. In addition, reporters will work with USF St. Petersburg students to research articles, publish stories for WUSF’s Health News Florida website and write for print and radio. WUSF reporters already are working with two USFSP students at the new St. Petersburg Studio.

The mayor congratulated USF St. Petersburg on the opening of the studio. “This is a great addition to an already great institution, and a wonderful opportunity for students as well,’’ he said “I look forward to hearing more news and information from WUSF right here in St. Petersburg.”

Journalism Chair Deni Elliott said the studio is an excellent example of collaboration within the USF System and with the community that directly benefits students. “We are excited about the possibilities this new studio offers for our journalism students and faculty,” she said.

A conversation about how USFSP can help solve local problems drew a large crowd at the Community Input Forum.

First Vision 20/20 Input Forums prompt lively, engaged conversations

The first round of student and community Input Forums for the Vision 20/20 strategic planning process took place Monday at the University Student Center ballroom. The forums — one for students in the morning and a second for community members in the evening — featured lively discussions of important issues for the future of USFSP. Some common themes of both forums included an interest in creating more internship opportunities to benefit students and local businesses and increasing community engagement to solve pressing local problems. Environmental Science Senior Lauren Reilly wrote in a Vision 20/20 blog post that the forum was inspiring. “Many different topics were discussed, such as undergraduate research support, paid internships and the commuter-student community,’’ she wrote. “After lunch, the second round of conversations began. I joined one that was full of laughter as we brainstormed about ways to improve our outdoor culture and bring the beach vibe to campus.” Vision Team member Goliath Davis said he was pleased with the results of the Community Input Forum. “I was impressed with the level of interest and engagement by everyone,’’ he said. “I was particularly impressed that so many people took time out of their busy lives to show up on a Monday night. And I was extremely happy to see the interest and commitment from the community for USFSP.” Regional Chancellor Sophia Wisniewska welcomed participants at both forums, saying the forums are the “heart and soul’’ of the process and encouraging everyone to focus on the big picture. “This is a chance to pause, take a deep breath and think big: What are the big ideas shaping our future that we should address today?” she said. “As Carl Sandburg once said: ‘Nothing happens unless first a dream.’” The input forums continue today, with a faculty forum in the morning and the afternoon, and the second Student Input Forum at 4:30 p.m. The final input forum will be Wednesday at 9 a.m. for USFSP staff. Members of the Vision Team will participate in a series of Learning Journeys beginning next week. The next Vision Team meetings will be Feb. 28 and March 1. For updates on Twitter and Facebook, follow the hashtag #usfspvision2020. Go to the Vision 20/20 website for detailed information about the process.

Students discuss their visions for the future of USF St. Petersburg during Monday's Input Forum.

Students discuss their visions for the future of USF St. Petersburg during Monday’s Input Forum.

Vision 20/20 Input Forums to focus on critical issues facing USFSP

A series of six Input Forums are scheduled at the University Student Center ballroom Jan. 13-15 as part of the ongoing Vision 20/20 strategic planning process.

With support from Insyte Partners, a respected leadership consulting firm, the 70-member Vision Team of students, faculty, staff and community members will convene conversations about the critical questions for the future of USFSP.

The forums are designed to broaden the conversation and weigh the big ideas shaping USFSP’s future that should be addressed today. The comments and suggestions made during the forums are critical to the success of this initiative and will help shape the final product.

Participants will have the opportunity to discuss the topics that are most important to them. If you would like to participate in one of these sessions, RSVP to Amy Harcar at or (727) 873-4986.

For Twitter and Facebook updates, follow the hashtag #USFSPVision2020.

Community Input Forum

Monday, January 13: 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Student Input Forums

Monday, January 13: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Tuesday, January 14: 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Staff Input Forum

Wednesday, January 15: 9 a.m. to Noon

Faculty Input Forums

Tuesday, January 14: 9 a.m. to Noon

Tuesday, January 14: 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Online MBA program ranked fourth in Florida, in Top 100 nationally by U.S. News & World Report

The USF St. Petersburg College of Business online MBA program is ranked in the top 100 nationally and fourth among Florida universities for Best Online Graduate Business Programs by U.S. News and World Report.

It is the first time the program, which began three years ago, has been ranked by the magazine, best known for its annual Best Colleges report, which ranked USF St. Petersburg 38th among the top regional public universities in the South last year. The online rankings were released Wednesday.

The USFSP online MBA program was one of four in Florida to make the list, joining the  University of Florida, Florida State University and Florida International. Nationally, the USFSP program placed 91st among 225 online graduate business programs in the country.

The program, the first of its kind by an accredited university in the Tampa Bay area, offers students a full array of options, including obtaining an MBA completely online or through a mixture of online and in-person classroom courses.

“The ranking by U.S. News and World Report underscores the innovative thinking that drives the College of Business,’’ said Vivian Fueyo, Ph.D., interim regional vice chancellor for academic affairs. “It reflects the excellence of our faculty and the high caliber of the students we attract.”

College of Business Dean Maling Ebrahimpour thanked the faculty and staff for its hard work and dedication. “I am proud of what they have accomplished in just three years,’’ he said. “We believe this program meets the needs of students as well as businesses seeking well-educated and prepared employees.”