When faculty, staff and students return to the USF St. Petersburg campus after more than a year of remote learning due to the coronavirus, they'll be greeted by new buildings and dramatic upgrades to existing facilities.
The list below highlights some of the major changes and new additions.
A third residence hall expands student housing: While this new 125,000-square-foot residence hall opened in the summer of 2020, many students have not yet experienced the 375-bed facility or the full-service dining hall on the first floor.
The hall, called Osprey Suites, has five residential floors as well as a first-floor lounge and study area that includes a spacious community kitchen. Welcoming students into the new residence hall are furniture and design features made of reclaimed wood, salvaged lumber from oak trees that were removed during construction of the sustainable, LEED-certified building.
Osprey Suites expands on-campus student housing from approximately 550 beds to more than 900. It also supports efforts to develop additional educational programming for residential students. The views from the upper floors of the waterfront and downtown St. Petersburg are stunning.
“The opening of this beautiful new residence hall is a major milestone for our campus and our university,” said Martin Tadlock, regional chancellor of USF’s St. Petersburg campus. “Osprey Suites will be a place where students study together, learn from each other and plan a future filled with hope and a promise for a sustainable future and a better tomorrow.”
Full service dining hall and revamped convenience store: The campus’ first full-service dining hall, The Nest, is located on the first floor of Osprey Suites. The sun-filled, all-you-care-to-eat facility showcases modern menu concepts such as True Balance: An Allergen Zone Kitchen, DestiNations serving flavors from around the world and a complete plant-based station along with college staples such as pizza, burgers and a salad bar.
The contemporary space is structured like a food-hall including eight uniquely branded station concepts, with display cooking for guests to view the fresh dishes being prepared. Advanced technology allows visitors to navigate through menus, customizing and enjoying meals throughout the day.
Meanwhile, the beloved Reef in the University Student Center has transitioned to an expanded convenience store concept called 727 Eats. 727 Eats combines the corner store vibe with the style of a modern market, featuring grab-and-go dining options any time of the day. The concept accepts dining dollars for students looking for a quick, convenient place to grab not only fresh food, but everyday essentials. Offerings include a variety of local products, fresh produce, sushi, gluten-free, vegan and low-carb options.
Davis Hall’s modern upgrades: Approximately 35,000 square feet of office and classroom space on the second floor of Davis Hall have been completely renovated to create a more modern and collaborative environment for students, faculty and staff. The upgrades include expanded views of Bayboro Harbor on one side of the building and of Harborwalk on the other side, conceptually reimagining Davis Hall as a link between the campus green space and the water while welcoming in abundant natural light.
A faculty and student collaboration area serves as the centerpiece of the new design. Study lounges can be found outside 13 classrooms, which contain new audio/visual equipment, recess lighting and contemporary furniture. Upgrades also include critical mechanical systems such as air conditioning and heating.
The colors and textures of the water and surrounding landscape inspired the material and color palette found throughout the renovated Davis Hall.
Research labs come to the Peter Rudy Wallace building: Several classrooms and other spaces in the Peter Rudy Wallace Florida Center for Teachers building have been transformed into research labs for ongoing and impactful projects. The building is now home to the USF Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Lab, which is devoted to studying human trafficking with the goal of transforming Tampa Bay into a region that’s resilient to this activity. Spearheaded by Criminology Professors Joan Reid and Shelly Wagers (USF’s St. Petersburg campus), Bryanna Fox (USF’s Tampa campus) and Jessica Grosholz, Fawn Ngo and Sandra Stone (USF’s Sarasota-Manatee campus), the lab will be used by interdisciplinary researchers and community partners to analyze data, interview victims, evaluate programs intended to reduce demand for sex trafficking and develop more informed and comprehensive responses to child sex trafficking. The lab will also employ graduate assistants, offering them an opportunity to engage in critical research with real-world consequences.
Another lab is housing the Initiative on Coastal Adaptation and Resilience (iCAR) led by Geography Professors Barnali Dixon and Rebecca Johns. The initiative helps to better understand issues related to local climate change and resiliency while facilitating the adoption of policies and practices focused on coastal adaptation and resilience. Every year iCAR hosts a workshop that brings together scientists, policymakers and the local community to focus on preparing and becoming more resilient to present and future climatic changes.
Peter Rudy Wallace will also be the temporary home of a project site for Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease with Cognitive Training (PACT) clinical trial. The project was awarded a $44.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study whether computerized brain training exercises can reduce the risk of mild cognitive impairment and dementias like Alzheimer’s disease. The project has multiple trial sites across the U.S. and is recruiting for 7,600 study participants. The trial site on the USF St. Petersburg campus, which is directed by Psychology Associate Professor Jennifer O’Brien, will eventually move into the first floor of Davis Hall.
Harbor Hall’s transformation: To better suit creative and collaborative endeavors while serving as a venue for aspiring graphic artists, Harbor Hall was renovated to create more gallery space for students to showcase their work. Neutral surroundings of white walls, black ceilings and gray concrete floors found throughout the hall will provide a sophisticated venue for students to display their latest creations.
Walls are ready to be used for future murals. Stainless steel panels found in classroom studios and the main gallery will provide a durable, reconfigurable area for two-dimensional art to be hung with magnets. Lighting has been upgraded throughout all renovated spaces with more sustainable LED fixtures that create better white light for display and production of graphic art. Technology upgrades are found in all studio classrooms and include the completion of a 17-station computer lab made possibly by a generous $1 million gift from the estate of Josephine Hall.
Overall, the renovation will create a more aesthetically inviting experience for visitors and provide a canvas for creative and colorful expression.
“I am 400” banner highlights the Black experience: An art banner designed to honor 400 years of African American history is now mounted on Davis Hall, which is named after Lowell E. Davis, the first African American to serve as dean of the USF St. Petersburg campus from 1986 to 1989.
Called “I AM 400,” the banner was created by father and son artists Jerome and Jeromyah Jones from Richmond, Va. It is a collection of 69 painted portraits of notable pioneers from the African American community, such as Martin Luther King Jr., Arthur Ashe, Stevie Wonder and trailblazing NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson.
Butterfly garden revitalization: Since 2013, the campus has maintained a 900 square foot butterfly garden to enhance aesthetic beauty while providing a food source for pollinators. Recently, with the help of student government, the garden was revitalized into a 100 percent Florida native garden.
The new and improved butterfly garden contains a wide variety of flowers and plants that require no toxic fertilizers and little watering, while providing food and habitat for Florida wildlife. A new bat house, owl house and a bird house were also installed in the garden.
Free little library installed outside Military & Veterans Success Center: The Student Veterans Organization has opened a free little library outside the Military & Veterans Success Center. The little library contains children’s books for babies to age eight. The focus is on multicultural issues, where all children can find themselves depicted in the pages, relate to the characters and find inspiration. Visitors are invited to take a book or donate a book to enhance the free little library collection.
Todd Post, vice president of the Student Veterans Organization, said the inspiration for the little library and its theme came out of the military experience.
“Many of our current military staff and student population served overseas or resided on a military base, with some having helped establish schools, acquiring coloring books and materials for these schools,” Post said. “When you’re on a military base, the children go to school and play with the neighbors next door. Skin color, religion, culture, political views aren't important to that child. They just want a friend to play with.”