A book for the ages

Mark Greenberg has spent the past three years looking through each individual edition of The Oracle since its inception – for a book.

“We had the equivalent of two or three people working on research for this project day in and day out from the summer of 2002 through the summer of 2005,” Greenberg said.

Greenberg and his team of graduate students also sifted through numerous Library archives containing old presidential papers, memos, photos, publications, yearbooks, directories, budgets and student catalogs.

In addition, interviews with more then 200 past and present students and faculty have been documented.

And thanks to $160,000 in cash support from the Alumni Association, USF Foundation and Academic Affairs, Greenberg’s work should hit the bookstores as early as March 2006.

“I’ve finished writing about 80 percent of the book,” said Greenberg, director of the Florida Studies Center and the Special Collections Department of the Library. “I’ve written about four to five chapters.”

Greenberg said in 2002 he was asked by USF President Judy Genshaft to research and write the book.

The University of South Florida: the First Fifty Years will be divided by decades and will contain more then 300 photographs, according to Greenberg.

“It’s a coffee-table pictorial history,” he said. “But there’s also a lot of text, because what we want people to do is enjoy the book in two different ways. You can look at the book and just look at the photos and read the captions, or you can read all the text. If all you want to do is look at the photos and read the captions, you’ll get the story.”

The book will also include answers to some bizarre questions, such as the naming of the University.

“The University of South Florida came very late in the discussions,” Greenberg said. “It was very, very close that we would have been called the University of Florida at Temple Terrace.”

Desoto, Ponce de Leon and Henry B. Plant were also in consideration for the name at the time.The book will be more than 200 pages, he said, and will paint a diverse picture of student life at USF.

“The answers (from interview questions) are as diverse as the people who came here, and you hear such different answers and those different answers are a testament to how many different kinds of people worked and went to school here,” Greenberg said. “We’ve had students come here from across the world, and we’ve also had students come here from two blocks away, but they all came here for different reasons and those answers are fascinating.”