Even though Phyllis P. Marshall retired from USF in 1994, her presence never left the former University Center. Now, 11 years later, Marshall’s ideals and presence still linger in the aptly named Phyllis P. Marshall Center.
Marshall died Saturday in her sleep at the age of 78.
“It is with great sadness that the University of South Florida bids farewell to Phyllis P. Marshall, a founding pillar of our university and community,” USF President Judy Genshaft said in a statement. “Phyllis leaves a legacy of unconditional dedication to the students of USF, who fondly remember and cherish her as a role model and leader. The USF family is proud and grateful for her many contributions and her legacy will continue to touch lives on the campus and beyond.”
Marshall, who came to USF in 1960, was head of the University Center from 1975-94. She began her 34-year career at USF as head of the only women’s dormitory, located on the fourth floor of the University Center. At the time, she was responsible for 42 women.
She replaced Duane Lake as activities director in 1975.
“I can’t remember how many times I’ve run into people who were former students that are now established in the community that knew and were influenced by Phyllis,” said Guy Conway, director of the Marshall Center. “She helps everyone still. She built the foundation of this operation that we have tried to keep going and build upon. She was instrumental in getting the (Marshall Center) renovated and getting the special events center built in ’91.”
Marshall had a reputation for being very personable. In fact, when she retired, a motion was passed to change state legislature to have the University Center renamed to the Phyllis P. Marshall Center. It was officially renamed March 3, 1994.
“That was in direct response to the wishes of the students,” Carolyn Campbell, Marshall’s sister, said in an interview with The Tampa Tribune. “She would want to be remembered as a friend of students. Education was at the top of her list of priorities.”
After Marshall retired she continued to have an influence on campus. She served on the board of the USF Credit Union. Luis Visot worked as an assistant to Marshall before replacing her in 1994.
“Her legacy was directly relating to having a tremendously positive relationship with all students,” Visot said. “She had the gift of facilitating to any student issue and served as a role model. She gave her whole life to the University.”
Visot works as the director of the Joint Military Science Leadership Center. In memory of Marshall, a commemorative book has been placed at the lobby of the Marshall Center for friends and colleagues to sign.