The establishment of the University of South Florida provided an opportunity for thousands of students from the Tampa Bay area and beyond with the opportunity to pursue a university education.
According to data from the Florida Board of Control in 1958, there were only 1,228 students from Hillsborough County in attendance at the three existing public universities in the state. The University of Florida had enrolled 758 students; Florida State University enrolled 330 students; and Florida A & M University enrolled 140 from the county. When 1,993 students registered for classes at USF in the fall of 1960, it demonstrated that USF was filling a need for area residents who wanted to attend college.
Students attending USF could live at home and commute to campus. The cost for tuition was $90 per semester, and textbooks cost an average of $37.50 per semester. Students could purchase a food plan for $11 per week. That first year, only 45 female students lived on campus in housing located on the fourth floor of the University Center. All other students lived off campus with most commuting from their parents’ homes.
Among those students entering the University were hundreds of individuals who were able to become teachers by enrolling in the College of Education. Barbara Holley Campbell, an elementary education major, was the first student accepted to the University of South Florida in 1960. She was 22 years old and married with small children when she enrolled at USF. She enjoyed a long and successful teaching career in Hillsborough County.
Not only was the first student accepted to the University of South Florida an education major, but the first two graduates of the University, Evelyn O’Neal and Lucas King, were also graduates of the College of Education. Mrs. O’Neal and Mrs. King entered USF with two-year licensed instructor degrees from the University of Tampa and Florida State University, respectively. With two years of credits transferring to USF, both had met all of the requirements for graduation from the College in 1962. Mrs. O’Neal taught at Coleman Junior High School for 18 years, and Mrs. King taught at Lake Magdalene Elementary School for six years. They also became good friends and founded the endowed the King O’Neal Scholarship which was awarded for many years.
Students in the Charter Class of 1960 could not have envisioned that before their graduation in December 1963, they would have experienced such historical events as the passage of the Civil Rights Act, the establishment of the Peace Corps, the beginning of the Vietnam War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
In December 1963, 325 students became members of USF’s first graduating class. The 188 graduates, or 62 percent, were students of the College of Education. Degrees were awarded in the areas of art, elementary, English, speech, language arts, mathematics, music, physical education, and social science education.
Many members of the graduates from the College entered the field of education and had long-term, successful careers. Others taught in elementary and secondary schools in the Tampa Bay area for many years and then went on to become K-12 administrators, community college and/or university professors. Included in this group were Dr. Earl J. Lennard, former Superintendent of Hillsborough County Schools; Dr. Diana Almeida, former Vice President of Hillsborough Community College; Dr. Dick Puglisi, Professor and Director of the Gus A. Stavros Center within the USF College of Education; and Dr. Harold Jeffcoat, President of Texas Wesleyan University.
Dr. Beverly Wickson, C‘71, gathered the following memories of a group of five roommates. This group of College of Education graduates continue their friendships thorough their annual reunions and share their fond memories of USF:
When I look back on my years at USF, I feel a sense of longing… a longing to go back to the days when I felt excited about being on my own, meeting new people, learning new things, and exploring the world as someone who felt invincible.
I loved college. I loved everything about it from the education classes I took, to the parties I attended, to the unending parade of people who came into my life and taught me more than any class ever could. I learned to be independent, to open myself up to new experiences, and to embrace everything USF had to offer. I gained a whole new sense of who I was and what my place in the world should be. I learned to be outspoken and stand up for what and who I believed in. And along the way I gained more than I ever hoped for. I gained six women who, to this day, are my sisters. Not because we were in a sorority, but because we all lived together, in the dorms, for all the years we were at USF. I learned more from those girls than I ever dreamed possible. To this day we all still live in Florida and see each other every year. We call it our “Roommates Reunion,” but for me it’s more of a reunion of our hearts, because when we get together we always remember where we started…in the dorms at USF.
Thank you, USF, for all you have stood for in my life and for all I learned by walking through your doors. I am a very lucky person to have started my adult life with you.
Ande (Boris) Felder
Class of 1971
Bachelor’s in Early Childhood, Elementary Education
How does one measure the life-changing experiences of college and leaving the sheltered environment of home for the first time? How does one put a value on the lessons learned from time-management to health management, from political awareness to self-awareness, from dorm life to life-long friends?
As a student at USF from 1967 to 1971, I learned more about myself than at any other time in my 57 years of age. I was allowed and encouraged to develop and broaden my intellectual, political, and social beliefs and understandings. I learned that even one person can make a difference by not being indifferent. I learned that by living in a dorm with people from all over the globe, I could be optimistic and hopeful in a world that seemed scary and dangerous. I learned that friendships created in college would last a lifetime and be my extended family.
My six former college roommates continue to be a strong force in my life. They have shared my early emotional growth experiences of life, love, marriage, children, and continue the journey through all of my life cycle events. I look back at my years in college with wonderment, laughter, fear, enlightenment, and frivolity. How can one measure that impact in one’s life? It can’t be done.
Congratulations, USF, for changing my life and undoubtedly the lives of so many others. Happy 50th anniversary.
Cassie (Streeter) Oransky
Class of 1971
Bachelor’s in Elementary Education
In 1967, I was 17 years old and for the first time in my life, I was leaving home and the comfort of being “taken care of.” Luck followed me through all the days of my college life. I thought my first roommate was Chinese because her last name was “Lee.” She thought I would have “horns” because she had never met a “Jewish” person. We became fast and true friends from the first days. The following years, I found six more true and lifelong friends. We were all attached at the hips. If one moved, the other moved. We were totally unaware that people envied our camaraderie. To this day, 40 years later, we still are in contact, all living in Florida, and having yearly reunions. I stayed on one extra year (taking a master’s degree) so I didn’t graduate with most of my buddies. It was a good thing that researching for my thesis kept me overwhelmingly busy.
There were a lot of “firsts” for me at the University of South Florida. It was now up to me to take on the responsibility of taking care of “me.” I experienced my first fraternity party, my first drink, my first love, my choice of career path, the stirrings of an interest in politics, social issues, etc. It’s unbelievable to think so much of what I experienced at school could have so much influenced my future life.
I can honestly say the five years I spent at the University of South Florida were some of the happiest moments in my life. I loved the academics, the architecture, the atmosphere and the people. I consider myself to have been a very lucky lady.
Alisa (Stein) Newbauer
Class of 1972
Master’s of Science in Speech Pathology
Thanks to the wonderful Education Department at USF that allowed me to major in elementary education with a subject area minor. I am a mathematics teacher and teach in the high school that I graduated from in 1967. When one of my students talks to me about their plans for the future and how they are looking forward to going away to college, it gives me cause to reminisce about that special time in my life.
I am not sure now what I expected college life to be like. I certainly didn’t realize that “experiencing college” was so much more than just attending classes. I knew I wanted to meet new people and purposely chose USF because I knew relatively few people that were going there. I went to visit the school with my parents after I had made my decision. I must admit, at first sight, I thought the campus was a bit stark and cold looking. Little did I realize then the warmth I would feel by the wonderful friendships I would make, the excitement and thrill of living on campus and the rush that comes from being challenged to think, explore, and expand your mind.
I lived on campus all four years of school – three years in Gamma, sharing a bathroom with 49 other girls and in our senior year, moving to the Kappa suites with the same group of friends. The seven of us try to get together once a year. During a recent visit, we woke up a very sleepy resident to ask if we could look at the suite we all shared nearly 40 years ago. The study area and bedrooms were filled and crowded with all sorts of electronic equipment such as computers, cell phones, CD players, all items that weren’t even available when we went to school! Of course everything looked smaller than we had remembered. Yet, we walked away feeling that we had been fortunate to share such an important part of our lives together in a place that nurtured our spirits and prepared us for the future.
Jane (Cherof) Schagrin
Class of 1971
Bachelor’s in Early Childhood/Elementary and Secondary Education (Math)
After high school graduation in South Carolina, I applied and was accepted to USF in the summer of 1967. After a couple months I was off on my first plane ride to Tampa with best friend and new roommate Ande, ready for all the new experiences college life would bring.
That first year I was filled with lots of exciting adventures with all kinds of people, but there was something special about one group of girls that Ande and I met. During the next three years that roommate group of Alisa, Ande, Bev, Cassie, Jane, and Susan became my away from home family. There was nothing we didn’t share from holidays and birthday parties to college studies and boyfriends.
After graduation, we all spread our wings but luckily landed all over Florida and have shared wonderful reunions, picking up just where we left off, reminiscing about our grown-up lives. We continue to share our life events with each other, and I am so lucky in 2006 to still have these wonderful girlfriends.
Rita (Miller) Blank
Class of 1971
Bachelor’s in Elementary Education
I came to USF in 1968. I had never really been away from home for any period of time. I was very shy and quiet, sheltered even.
In the four years I was there my whole being sprouted like a new seed just planted. The friendships I made and the experiences I participated in were like sunshine, good soil, and water. I blossomed.
I learned how to be independent while getting a good education, and yet I learned how to live with seven other girls. We supported one another, took care of one another and went out of our way for each other. Forty years later we are still doing just that.
Times have changed so much. I am not sure my own daughter is able to enjoy college the way we did back then. I realize how lucky I was. Honestly, the years I spent at USF were four of the best years in my life.
Susan Gendzier Sternstein
Class of 1972
Bachelor’s, Elementary Education
As the youngest (by two years) of the six YaYa Roommates, I was so awed by five girls who I met my first semester at USF and who later became my roommates and my best friends for life.
When my parents drove me to USF, I didn’t know one person. That would all change after one week!
I think the biggest challenge and most stressful experience my first week at USF was getting the classes needed. It was the fall of 1969 when I walked up to the gym (that’s where registration occurred), and I got so nervous because the line to get into the gym to get your classes was wrapped around the building and the wait was at least two or three hours. Back in the day the more senior you were at USF the better chance you got the classes you needed. I met a few people who said they knew some upper classman and they would help me out. They were in the TEP fraternity and as it turned out several of their “little sisters” lived on my floor in Gamma.
That’s where the life long friendship began and has continued over the past 37 years. I lived in Gamma dorm with a roommate who I never saw, so the first week I walked up and down the hallway trying to meet others. Down the hall there were five girls who took me under their wings and helped me through a challenging freshman year. I never expected that in my first week of being at USF I would have met and become such good friends with Ande, Jane, Cassie, Alisa, and Susan. When I met them, they already were friends, so I was the “new kid” on the block. They welcomed me and really helped me make it through some really tough times (courses, meeting new friends, and of course partying). They invited me to eat with them in the cafeteria, join them when there were parties, and of course help them with their biggest task—finding the TEPs dates for the weekends! The third floor of Gamma 3 West was a hopping place, with only two phones on the floor it was just crazy come Friday afternoons!
USF was the right choice for me. The College of Education had a strong commitment to preparing teachers for the classroom. I continued attending the University and still have strong professional ties to the College.
Dr. Beverly (Leibowitz) Wickson
Class of 1973
Bachelor’s, Elementary Education, Early Childhood
Master’s, Exceptional Education