Getting to know Florida

Hidden upstairs on the fourth floor of the library lies Florida’s history. However, the center that contains so much about Florida’s history does not get as much use as expected.

“Occasionally, folks from the community find their way in here a couple times a week, but not nearly enough,” said Mark Greenberg, the director for the USF Florida Studies Center.

The USF Florida Studies Center, in essence, has been around since 1998, Greenberg said. Just last November, Greenberg joined the center as director, and since then it has grown immensely, he said.

“We’ve expanded our mission and have grown a lot since then,” Greenberg said. “We offer more services now, and we have a lot of new programs.”

Prior to August of this year, the USF Florida Studies Center was known as The Resource Center for Florida History and Politics.

But this semester the center takes on a new name, partly because all the new services and programs it now offers, such as lectures about various Florida studies subjects.

“We changed the name because it was a mouthful– pretty hard to remember–and that name placed emphasis only on history and politics, when in fact the Florida center incorporates so much more,” Greenberg said.

The center provides significant information on almost every topic in the arts and humanities area, Greenberg said.

“We cover literature, art, music, architecture, geography, library and information sciences … everything except the hard sciences and medical sciences,” Greenberg said.

Junior Jennifer Valko said for the past three years she has been studying on the fourth floor but has never heard its name until now.

“I’m sure it could have been useful for my many papers had I known there were so many resources right there,” Valko said. “Maybe more publicity would be good for both the students and the center.”

The USF Florida Studies Center is currently devoting much time and effort to completing a project for USF’s 50th anniversary coming up in 2006.

The Center will produce a 50th Anniversary Commemorative Pictorial History, which will be a coffee table-sized picture book that covers 50 years of university history across all campuses.

“We’re going to have lots of great photos, and it will be university-wide,” said Greenberg.

Another plan in the works is to establish a program at the undergraduate level that offers certification in Florida studies.

“It will be like a minor, but people will get a certificate instead,” Greenberg said. “The program is aimed to start by next fall.”

For students, this center can prove especially helpful because of the many different opportunities it offers.

“We offer graduate students a summer fellowship to almost any place worldwide for thesis or dissertation research,” Greenberg said.

The center plans to award a $2,500 Research Fellowship to a graduate student or a doctoral candidate who is engaged in a thesis or dissertation research on a Florida studies topic. Additionally, the center provides graduate research stipends to any registered graduate student studying a Florida arts or humanities subject.

Creating a strong oral history of Florida is yet another one of the center’s many goals. Through interviews and workshops, the center collects and preserves valuable information about the social, cultural and historical activities in Tampa, Greenberg said.

The center has conducted many interviews with important people, and those interviews are now a part of the library collection.

“We’re interested in people who’ve made a difference in Tampa Bay,” Greenberg said.

Some of their recent interviews included Grace Allen, USF’s first president’s wife; Robert Saunders, an important civil rights activist; and Sam Gibbons, a powerful congressman from Tampa, Greenberg said.

Contact Amal Kurdiat