In 1994, Anna Marie Terry Ippolito visited with Dr. Bill Katzenmeyer, Dean of the College of Education, to discuss the College’s alumni association. Ms. Ippolito, a member of the USF College of Education’s charter class, had served as the national president of the USF Alumni Association. She was surprised to learn that at the time of her initial conversation with Dean Katzenmeyer that the College of Education’s alumni did not have such an organization. With the support of Dean Katzenmeyer and the College’s development officer, Joe Tomaino, she set out to develop the College of Education Alumni Society. At the time, the College had graduated over 22,000 educators. Approximately 16,940 of those alumni lived in the Tampa Bay area. Joe Tomaino recognized the future potential for the College of Education and provided Ms. Ippolito with his full support.
When Dr. Steve Permuth was appointed as the dean of the College in 1994, he named Ms. Ippolito to serve as the first president of the College of Education Alumni Society which recruited members, held brainstorming sessions, and formed a strategic planning committee. Among the activities the College of Education Alumni Society developed was the creation of Education Family Night which is designed to honor all teachers of the Tampa Bay area as well as to recognize the College of Education Teacher of the Year during halftime at a USF basketball game. For a small fee, the participants received a game ticket, a t-shirt, and attended a pre-game reception. Based on past results with other USF alumni events, it was anticipated that about 50 to 75 College of Education alumni would attend. Ms. Ippolito contacted all of the superintendents in the region to encourage them to distribute the information about the event out to as many educators as possible. Both Joe Tomaino and Ms. Ippolito were happily amazed when over 850 educators attended the first College of Education Family Night. Other colleges at USF were eager to learn how to develop programs to match the success of the College of Education Alumni Society.
The society supported the Suncoast Young Authors Celebration, the College of Education Children’s Festival, Alumni Family Wellness Day, and the Migrant Student Awards Showcase. In addition, the society sponsored a pre-commencement celebration for all College of Education graduates presenting each of them with an apple pin. It has also participated in the first ever Education in Action Breakfast and published a College of Education Alumni Society newsletter.
The College of Education Alumni Society received official recognition from the University of South Florida Alumni Association as the Outstanding Alumni Society Chapter in 1995. Ms. Ippolito was presented with the College of Education Alumni Society Legacy Award and was named as president emeritus after her tenure as president of the society ended.
In 1996, Ron Beneke followed Ms. Ippolito as president of the College of Education Alumni Society. The following year, Dr. Susan M. Martin became president of the Alumni Society and served in that position for several years. Dr. Martin, who holds four degrees from the USF College of Education, led the College Alumni Society into the twenty-first century. As a Hillsborough County Schools educator, she encouraged the society to be active in College and community events. Under Dr. Martin’s leadership, the College of Education Alumni Scholarship Fund was established. The program provides scholarships to interning students and alumni pursuing advanced degrees. The College Alumni Society Board voted Dr. Martin as President Emeritus at the conclusion of her term as president.
Freda Abercrombie, a Pasco County educator and active member in the SCATT Honors program, was elected to the office of Alumni Society President in 2004. She provided the leadership to establish the first New Educator Institute, a forum to assist first and second year teachers. Ms. Abercrombie continues to be active in recruiting new Alumni Association members at College of Education graduation receptions.