USF In The News

A visit from ABC Action News was broadcast live and may result in expanded coverage in the future.


USF President Judy Genshaft addresses the crowd at the Tuesday lunch event with ABC Action News. Photo: Aimee Blodgett | USF News


By Barbara Melendez

USF News


TAMPA, Fla. (Dec. 6, 2011) – The Patel Center for Global Solutions lobby was humming Tuesday afternoon with television cameras and guests who came together to count the many ways USF warrants increased and more in depth news coverage.


ABC Action News Vice President and General Manager Rich Pegram invited USF’s leadership to lunch to get better acquainted with what he acknowledge to be this leading member of the Tampa Bay Community. This was one of a series of community outreach events. 

“We’re here because you’re important,” Pegram said. And while he had several pages of notes listing USF’s many achievements, he focused on some of the most outstanding: USF’s $3.7 billion economic impact; 47,000 students; nearly 16,000 employees; Marince Sciences’ work on the Gulf oil spill; the $38 million CAMLS (Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation) project and he couldn’t help but exclaim, “This place is huge!”

Pegram brought along colleagues from WFTS including Lissette Campos, who formerly worked for USF Health and now serves as the station’s community affairs director, plus reporters Carson Chambers, Linda Hurtado and Brendan McLaughlin and ABC Action News News Director Doug Culver.

It was a working lunch for Chambers who took time from mingling to handle a series of live shots during the noon newscast.  She interviewed USF mechanical engineering instructor Stephan Sundarrao sitting in a prototype of a mobility chair and USF Health Nursing College faculty member Marisa Belote and her team who demonstrated how a life-like simulated infant helps train medical students.

USF President Judy Genshaft expressed her hope that this visit would help convey the depth of knowledge and expertise housed at USF and that the university’s growing national reputation would be conveyed to the local news audience. She then introduced USF Board of Trustees members Elizabeth Bird, Gene Engle,  Rhea Law and Byron Shinn, and welcomed guests who included Columbia Restaurant owner Richard Gonzmart, Latino Community Advisory Committee Chair Maritza Rovira-Forino,, Congressional staff member Chloe Coney from U.S. Rep. Cathy Castor’s office along with Provost Ralph Wilcox and assorted directors, senior vice presidents, vice presidents and other administrators who made up the audience.  They took the opportunity to highlight important work being done in every corner of the university with basic details about the various colleges, schools and programs.

McLaughlin circulated through the tables for brief descriptions of the work of USF World from Senior Vice President for Research, Innovation & Global Affairs Karen Holbrook, the College of Education from Dean Colleen Kennedy, College of Nursing Dean Dianne Morrison-Beedy, USF Health Diabetic Center Medical Director Dr. Henry Rodriguez, College of Behavioral and Community Science Interim Dean Catherine Batsche, USF Health’s Senior Associate Vice President, College of Public Health Dean Donna Petersen and Dr. Leslie Miller, chair of the Department of Cardiovascular Sciences at USF Health.

When the microphone was handed to USF Honors College students Anousha Hakim and Katherine King, they captivated the guests with how much they were enjoying their educational experiences.  And when asked what brought them to USF both answers reinforced the message that the university is attracting top students based on its excellent reputation, which was met with a burst of proud applause.

As the program came to an end, Pegram thanked everyone for confirming the good news he expected to find and indicated the university could expect to see more of USF in the station’s newscasts. However, it was up to President Genshaft to deliver the last word in a news tease that any news producer would envy.  She invited everyone to return to USF on Thursday at noon for what may be one of USF’s biggest news stories to date.

Barbara Melendez can be reached at 813-974-4563.