History of USF St. Petersburg Campus

Since 1996 USF St. Petersburg has had an active anthropology program fusing classroom learning, research skills and engagement with the Tampa Bay community. Dr. Jay Sokolovsky, who had established a similar program at the University of Maryland Baltimore County and was hired to begin a community-focused program in St. Petersburg initially centered in cultural anthropology. He brought experience derived from NIH, NIMH and foundation grant-funded applied research focusing on urban culture, homelessness, minority communities, indigenous Mexico and the anthropology of late life. During his first few years at USFSP he collaborated with the local African-American community in St. Petersburg to assist them in creating the O.B. McLin Community History Project promoting community identity and involvement through heritage preservation.

We endeavored to build an anthropology program focused on high quality faculty research and excellent interactive teaching environments. The Florida Legislature made USFSP a separately accredited institution in 2002, accredited by SACS in 2006 and 2011. With the autonomy and expansion of the campus beginning in 2002 the program sought to expand its disciplinary focus with the hires of archaeologist John Arthur and ethno-archaeologist Kathryn Weedman Arthur These dynamic faculty would go on to amplify the importance of anthropology on campus with books, grants and broad national recognition for their research. These faculty garnered large NSF and NEH grants to continue research in Ethiopia, involve our students in their work and generate international recognition with their amazing discovery of Bayira, the ancient skeleton yielding the oldest complete ancient African genome.

Over the past decade the program first added expertise in bio-medical, forensic and nutritional anthropology with the hiring of Dr. Anna Dixon who has added a wealth of new classes such as Forensic Anthropology, Ethnobotany, Food, Health and Culture. Dr. Dixon also added to our regional breadth with her work in Pacific Island cultures. More recently with the addition of Dr. Heather O’Leary, the program can offer courses on environmental anthropology, gender and the cultures of East Asia, especially India. We proudly note that all of our tenured/ tenure track anthropology have recently published scholarly books and garnered major grants which supports that work.

In 2020, we look forward to our consolidation with the USF Tampa Anthropology department and collaborating to bolster the department’s research and mentoring of students in Applied Anthropology.