Events and Initiatives


Signature Events

Each semester, campus comes alive with campus events, many of which are community facing. Below are annual signature community events. Exact dates of major events updated each semester is available at the Signature Events page.

Bulls and Brews by the Bay, is an annual event in October along the campus’ waterfront that raises funds for campus student scholarships. This event invites the community to come together to celebrate the spirit of the USF’s St. Petersburg campus and make a truly extraordinary impact on the future of education.

Halloween Fest, is an annual community family focused event in October in partnership with the City of St. Petersburg and Bayfront Health, in which hundreds of community families come to campus for educationally themed spooky activities, a Not-So-Haunted Library, costume contests, trunk or treating and ghoulish revelry.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Scholar Citizens Award Banquet. Every year students throughout Pinellas County are honored for their commitment and dedication to community service, volunteerism, social justice and civil rights, as well as perseverance in overcoming challenges.

Poetry Out Loud Florida is organized and hosted on campus each year in March. Poetry Out Loud is a national poetry recitation competition that provides high school students an opportunity to read and recite great poems while enhancing their public speaking and presentation skills. It is implemented in approximately 50 Florida high schools and impacts around 6,000 students each year by bringing a unit of poetry into the classroom and a school-wide competition where each school’s winner is invited to compete at the state competition.

St. Petersburg Science Festival is an annual regional celebration in February where families and the public can explore the wonders of hands-on science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM). The event is held in conjunction with MarineQuest, the annual open house of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute.

St. Petersburg Conference on World Affairs (SPCWA) brings together diplomats, military, media, scientists and experts in many fields to work collaboratively at better understanding and operating in the world to campus annually in February. It was founded in 2013, by former U.S. Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Douglas McElhaney and Professor Thomas Smith.


Mayor's Team Accelerate STEM Day

Kicking off Grand Prix of St. Petersburg weekend, USF St. Peterburg was a partner in bringing 85 students to campus from John Hopkins Middle School, Bay Point Middle School, Thurgood Marshall Middle School and St. Petersburg Parks & Recreation therapeutic recreation for Mayor Ken Welch’s Team Accelerate Grand Prix STEM Day. The day began on campus with an activity organized by the Pinellas Access to Higher Education (PATHe) team, which focused on future careers, followed by a welcome from Mayor Ken Welch. Then, students rotated between three activities: in the STEM Lab of the College of Education teams competed in a design competition using 3D modeling software; in the dining hall, students got to taste a bit of college life, including a dorm room tour; and in the Nelson Poynter Memorial Library Student Technology Center, students toured the makerspace, watched a demo 3D scanning of a race car, put together snap circuits in order to make an engine rev and built a catapult. The visit was a precursor for an afternoon tour of the Grand Prix, making the day an inspiring one filled with hands-on activities and valuable insights into STEM education and careers.

Employer Focus Group

As a unique way to engage community in dialogue, in Summer 2023, the Office of Community Relations invited regional-area employers in sectors or fields correlated to USF St. Petersburg campus’ most popular majors to participate in a series of focus groups.

Utilizing the Customer Experience Lab at USF’s Muma College of Business, the focus groups convened industry employers with the aim to:

  1. confirm skills and competencies needed to enter the local workforce within particular sectors;
  2. assess experiences of local employers who hire university/USF students in terms of their level of preparedness to meet the needs for said skills and competencies
  3. determine gaps and what would be needed to address them

Sessions included industry leaders and hiring agents in Journalism, Media and Communication; Criminal Justice; Business and Financial Services; Marine Biology and Environmental Sciences; Creative Arts/ Design; and Health Sciences.

Read details about this project.

Arts On Campus

USF St Petersburg campus develops projects related to artistic expression, public art and creative place making on the USF St. Petersburg campus. Take a virtual tour of the campus’ permanent public art collection.

Two galleries on campus offer temporary exhibits: The Poynter Gallery within the Nelson Poynter Memorial Library exhibits work that introduces the campus community to a wide range of contemporary art; and the Harbor Hall Gallery, which hosts student exhibitions as well as exhibits presented by the USF College of the Arts’


As part of its ongoing expansion of arts programming across the bay, the USF College of the Arts’ Contemporary Art Museum (USFCAM) presented the inaugural GENERATOR exhibition on the St. Petersburg campus. GENERATOR is an expansion of USFCAM, which seeks to be an incubator of new ideas and a place for expanded artistic experimentation. Primarily focused on the moving image and time-based contemporary art, the USF Contemporary Art Museum, GENERATOR offers a new cultural dimension to the St. Petersburg arts district that contributes to the city’s prominence as an arts destination while offering free public access to an inclusive space for creative exploration, research, and experimentation.

USF partners with Shine Mural Festival

For a third year, USF participated in the 2023 SHINE Mural Festival, this time with a street mural at a main campus intersection at 6th Ave S and 2nd St. South, titled “Fluid Structures,” USF Graphic Design Visiting Professor Jay Giroux. Previous festivals

On Harbor Hall’s west façade facing 3rd St South is “Rooted in the Community” by St. Pete-based artist Kenny Coil and Marc Berenguer, painted during the 2020 SHINE Mural Festival. And in 2022, Miami-based artist Reginald O'Neal depicted both the Mundari tribe of South Sudan and historian John Henrik Clark, a pioneer in the creation of Africana Studies who established one of the first and most influential Africana departments in the country at Hunter College in New York City.

Pinellas Higher Education Access Programs

USF St. Petersburg campus continues working closely with St. Petersburg College through our seamless transfer programs in FUSE – a partnership where students earn an associate’s degree at St. Petersburg College campus while getting many of the perks of being at USF's St. Petersburg or Tampa campus, and when it’s time for a bachelor degree, FUSE guarantees students will be admitted to USF.

Meanwhile Pinellas Access to Higher Education (PATHe) is a collaboration between the USF St. Petersburg and St. Petersburg College that aims to increase the number of Pinellas County residents receiving education beyond high school. PATHe team members visit local schools and community organizations to provide individuals and families with up-to-date information on college preparation and planning. They support students who attend college locally through the SPC-to-USF St. Petersburg program. Students are able to start at SPC and transfer to the University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus with the support and guidance from a PATHe advisor until they graduate with their Bachelor’s degree.

College of Education

Call Me MiSTER (an acronym for Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role Models) is based on the USF St. Petersburg campus that partners with Pinellas County Public Schools and is designed to provide academic and financial support to males of color interested in becoming public elementary school teachers in the City of St Petersburg in order to increase the pool of available licensed teachers from a broader, more diverse background.

Building Curriculum at the Police Athletic League. A federal grant enables USF College of Education students to provide year-round tutoring at no cost to K-8 youth participating in the St. Petersburg Police Athletic League (PAL). As part of a larger grant awarded to the City of St. Petersburg Police Department, PAL received around $68,000 to hire eight tutors, four days a week, during the school year and over the summer. The tutors, who will come from USF and other higher education institutions, will also help develop curriculum and assist certified teachers. Funds will also go towards a summer enrichment program that will be developed by College of Education faculty and doctoral students, to ensure kids maintain their academic achievement levels year-round.

Kate Tiedemann School of Business and Finance

Customer Experience Lab is a state-of-the-art facility that provides community partners with the resources to: conduct live focus groups for consumer research; obtain insights from faculty and students; conduct sales training in recording-enabled role play rooms with perception analytic Dials providing real-time feedback on video and digital products. Focus groups are moderated by an experienced facilitator and community partners have access to highly qualified faculty for data interpretation and action plan development.

The FinTech Center endeavors to be a leading university-based fintech center and entrepreneurial ecosystem, with a strategic focus on helping students, faculty, the business community, and fintech entrepreneurs lead with success and positive impact in the rapidly emerging and increasingly prominent fintech driven market sectors.

Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) Schools Program is an award-winning program that creates academic opportunities and career pathways for students from minority and low-income populations. As part of the MESA chapter at USF, funding will go towards initiating partnerships with schools, developing curriculum, establishing STEM-focused clubs and recruiting female and minority students in Pinellas County.

College of Behavioral and Social Sciences

The Trafficking in Persons Risk to Resilience Lab launched in the Fall of 2021 on the St. Petersburg campus. In 2023, the TIP Lab received authorization by the Florida legislature to create the Statewide Repository for Anonymous Human Trafficking Data and mandates that state agencies share human trafficking incidence data with the USF TIP Lab, an important step toward transforming Tampa Bay and the state of Florida into a region that’s resilient to human trafficking.

College of Marine Science

The College of Marine Science is passionate about Community Engagement to inspire students of all ages, educators, and scientists with an understanding of, and responsibility for, science-based ocean stewardship. Its education programs target three main audiences: Pre-College Students (K-12), Graduate Students, and K-12 Teachers and include signature programs like the Oceanography Camp for Girls and Guardians of the Gulf, a collaboration with the St. Pete Innovation District and Boys &  Girls Clubs of the Suncoast that leverages technology to provide children with web-based educational experiences, such as news-style broadcasts from researchers in the field, gamified learning and real-time sensors including underwater cameras and drones.

Community partners and groups. The College of Marine Science maintains strong research partnerships with federal and state agencies. In addition to academic research pursuits, the College of Marine Science hosts a number of specialized groups which collaborate on research and programs toward real world solutions.

Nelson Poynter Memorial Library

The Digital Commons @ University of South Florida hosts the digital archives for both the Florida Humanities Council and The Weekly Challenger newspaper, which has documented the history of St. Petersburg, Florida's African American community since 1967.

The newly renovated Library is also host to many community events, including art exhibits, panel discussions and more.