USF celebrates half a century of progress

On the verge of celebrating its 50th anniversary, USF is getting ready to unleash more educated individuals who are prepared to take on the world with their degrees. For other students, fall 2005 was just another leg they have completed in the race to get a degree, and they will be back to leave their mark on the campus when classes begin in January.

For the faculty and staff of USF, it is the end of a semester that was similar to many that they had seen before yet was one they would never experience again. As a fairly young major university, USF experienced many milestones this semester and will approach other important ones next semester.

USF’s football team, which became bowl eligible for the second time in its nine-year history, is going to its first-ever bowl game: The Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte, N.C., to face North Carolina State. Some may believe that this is not a significant achievement, as this game does not have as much prestige as other bowls. However, this is still a great achievement for the program. Going to the Car Care Bowl is an essential baby step that the Bulls must take to further the program in the eyes of the nation.

Another historic event for USF happened just this week: The acquittal of former USF professor Sami Al-Arian on eight of 17 terrorism-related charges. Many students at the University have not been here for the full length of Al-Arian’s saga – which began in 1994 when a documentary entitled Jihad in America aired on PBS and began to raise suspicions about Al-Arian’s involvement in the Palestinian Islamic Jihad – and may not realize the importance of his case.

Yet it is a big deal – this is the first time the Patriot Act has been tested in court, in USF’s backyard and involving a former professor of the University. It is important for everyone in the USF community to keep an eye on the happenings of this case as it continues to set a precedent in the United States.

As USF heads into spring 2006, more milestones are coming up, mainly USF’s 50th anniversary. Young in comparison to other state universities, yet with many more years under its belt than the likes of Florida Gulf Coast University, USF is the proverbial middle child, reaching to break out of the shadows.

The 50th anniversary is a time to reflect on where USF has been and where it is going. Those involved with USF should be proud of the more recent goal that was met – USF being named one of the top 50 research universities – but above all, everyone must remember the key word here is university. USF is here to educate and develop individuals who are creative thinkers, and this has been its main goal since 1956.