St. Petersburg/Pinellas Higher Education for Racial Equity (SPHERE)

Campus- Community Task Force on Diversity, Inclusion and Equity

In July 2020, USF’s St. Petersburg campus and community leaders in St. Petersburg and Pinellas County convened a Task Force to explore how we can bridge our efforts to address inequalities that exist in our city and county. Since then, Task Force members met monthly to discuss current initiatives, as well as gaps that might present opportunities for collaboration.

The purpose of the Task Force is to serve as a bridge between the St. Petersburg and Pinellas community and the USF St. Petersburg campus that will bring forward recommendations and priorities that have a lasting, positive impact on our campus and extended community of citizens in the areas of diversity, inclusion and equity.  

Task Force members established the following objectives:

  • Increase representation of people of color at USF’s St. Petersburg campus among staff, faculty, students, and business suppliers
  • Increase accessibility to higher education for students of color
  • Strengthen campus engagement with the community around diversity, inclusion, and equity practices
  • Create a program(s) or initiative(s) to have a lasting, positive impact on our campus and community

View some initial recommendations issued by the Task Force six months after its formation.

Working toward racial healing and racial justice

One of ideas the task force explored was to create a Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation (TRHT) Campus Center.  TRHT Campus Centers implement visionary action plans with the aim of moving the needle on the transformative goal of erasing structural barriers to equal treatment and opportunity on campuses, in our communities, and for our nation around the pillars of the TRHT Framework: narrative change, racial healing and relationship building, separation, law, and economy.

The Association of American Colleges and Universities is partnering with higher education institutions to prepare the next generation of strategic leaders to break down racial hierarchies through the TRHT framework developed by the Kellogg Foundation.  Twenty-five universities host campus centers around the country and there are 14 TRHT community collaborations supported by the Kellogg Foundation. The Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg has issued a planning grant to USF to explore the creation of a center at the St. Petersburg campus that will bring together regional higher education institutions interested in focusing on systemic changes to dismantle racial hierarchies within their institutions, as well as the community at-large.

You may visit these sites for background on the TRHT Framework:

What is the Role of Higher Education in Racial Justice?

On January 27, USF St. Petersburg campus, St. Petersburg College, Stetson University School of Law, Eckerd College, and the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg cohosted a virtual panel discussion for the St. Petersburg community to consider the role of higher education in promoting racial justice.

The intent of this event was to introduce the idea of a St. Petersburg Higher Education Consortium for Racial Justice based on the Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation (TRHT) Campus Center framework. We intend to follow up with participants to host more in-depth community listening sessions as we move from concept to creation.

We want your input

A planning team is exploring the application of the TRHT framework to our city and campus, and what needs it might address. Please give us your perspective:  

  • What challenges do we face on our campus and in our community in regards to dismantling racism?
  • What potential tensions, doubts or reservations would there be to creating a TRHT Campus Center?
  • What value or asset could a TRHT campus center provide to our campus and community?
  • What goals would a center support?
  • What is occurring on the USF campus and in the community and how may USF align with other efforts that relates to racial justice, narrative change and relationship building?
  • What are some milestones that would demonstrate, we are discarding the hierarchy of human value in our community?

Please fill out this survey

Contact Caryn Nesmith carynn@usf.edu with questions.

Consortium News