Student Success Awards Recipients
Congratulations to our 2021 Student Success Awards recipients! We are proud of the amazing work that this group has done to help USF's students succeed. They join a talented group of previous award winners dedicated to student success.
Academic Excellence Award
Graduate Academic Advisor, College of Nursing, Tampa Campus
In the role of Graduate Academic Advisor, Robert interacts with newly admitted students,
current students, and alumni. Robert always ensures that students come first with
everything he does. For the new students, Robert revamped the Canvas Orientation course
to make sure that new students were aware of the different campus resources available.
For current students, Robert runs reports every day monitoring student enrollment
in order to alert key faculty and staff for a rapid response intervention, as needed.
For graduate Nursing students, he created an OASIS tutorial to simplify the registration
process and a Qualtrics survey to streamline the certification process. Robert is
always looking for innovative ways to upgrade processes to the improve the student
experience. He advocates for students with every decision and makes sure their interests
are served by any changes made in the College of Nursing. Robert values and views
the relationships with new and current students, and alumni, as a collaboration where
the university and the student both succeed.
ChBME Lab Teaching Team for the Remote Laboratory Adaptation
Chemical, Biological, and Materials Engineering, Tampa Campus
Conversion of hands-on laboratory courses to a remote modality due to the COVID-19
pandemic required thoughtful consideration of student outcomes and reimagination of
activities to achieve those outcomes. In chemical engineering, seniors are required
to complete a two-semester unit operations lab sequence. The lab exposes students
to bench scale industrial processes such as heat exchange, membrane separation, pumping,
distillation, and adsorption. Students learn how to operate equipment, use instrumentation,
and analyze data. Key student outcomes include development of sensory and psychomotor
skills, performance of data analysis, and communication of technical content. During
this critical transition, the lab teaching team created and produced video content,
developed, and assembled take-home lab kits, utilized active learning techniques,
and leveraged the Teams platform to effectively deliver the chemical engineering lab
course in a remote environment. To bridge the gap between video and in-person performance,
weekly discussions were held with the instructors for every virtual lab, focusing
on pairing physical data with assumptions and analysis. The ChBME Lab Teaching Team
worked diligently and expeditiously to ensure a path to success for all student outcomes.
Coordinator, Medical Response Unit, Student Health Services, Tampa Campus
Austin Jared is a certified Emergency Medical Technician who possesses certifications
as an Emergency Vehicle Operations Course Training Instructor and Emergency Medical
Responder Course Instructor. He oversees more than 60 medical first responders, EMTs
and paramedics who staff the all-volunteer USF Medical Response Unit (MRU) vehicle
and the Student Health Services, Health Support Staff. The MRU Program launched in
February 2020, provides free Basic Life Support services and courtesy medical transportations
for all students, staff and faculty. The MRU program was the only student program
designated ESSENTIAL by USF during the COVID pandemic. Austin became the first USF
employee outside of Environmental Health and Safety to be certified to do fit testing
for N-96 masks. His team performed more than 4,500 COVID screenings without a single
personnel exposure. His efforts and all of the volunteer students were recognized
by USF Health with the prestigious USF CULTURE COIN AWARD because of their selfless
indispensable support. Austin Jared has been essential in training USF students as
Emergency Medical Responders and in developing programs that provide unique opportunities
for undergraduate students.
Director, Academic Advising, Behavioral & Community Science, Tampa Campus
Lisa provides invaluable leadership for all student success initiatives in the College
of Behavioral & Community Sciences and across all campuses. As evidence, the impressive
college data from 2020-2021: 95% freshman retention rate, 93% second year retention
rate, 91% graduate without excess hours, 73% 4-year graduation, 83% 6-year graduation,
and 1,792 students in internships. Lisa not only works within her college, she supports
colleagues across departments, colleges, and campuses. Some examples: Dr. Jennifer
Lister said, “Lisa is well respected by her peers as evidenced by her invitation to
serve on many important USF committees, such as the Finish In Four leadership team,
Banner 9 implementation team, several Archivum teams, Retention Taskforce, Degree
Works workgroup, and the Executive Board of the Council for Academic Advising.” According
to Dr. Valeria Garcia, “She is an active member of "Data Dive" workgroup and numerous
working committees supporting student success initiatives, not only representing her
college but as a power-user of data and tools.” Lisa Landis is an outstanding example
of being a team player who contributes immensely to student success.
Billie Jo Hamilton
Associate Vice President, Enrollment Planning & Management, Student Success
Billie Jo Hamilton has been a pillar of the student success movement serving on the Student Success task force in 2009-2010 and subsequently delivering on one of its key recommendations, the implementation of a financial aid leveraging model. In her current role, Billie Jo supervises the Offices of the Registrar and Financial Aid. In addition, she works collaboratively with senior leadership to develop enrollment plans and strategies, all of which took on new levels of urgency and complexity during the COVID-19 pandemic. In a “normal” year, the office of financial aid would distribute close to $450 million in state, federal, and institutional aid to USF students. Soon after the pandemic hit, the federal government passed a $2.2 trillion relief package, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, of which USF received $17.4 Million designated for students in greatest need. USF also put together an additional package of nearly $18 Million in institutional financial aid for the Fall 2020 semester and another round of over $50 Million in federal relief funds were received. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of Billie Jo Hamilton and her office, all funds were distributed quickly, providing timely support to keep our students on track to graduation.
Innovative Education Digital Learning
Cross Campus Collaboration, All Campuses
When the COVID-19 pandemic shifted all USF instruction online suddenly, the Digital
Learning stepped up to meet the challenge, hosting multiple live workshops, manning
open labs to answer faculty inquiries, compiling and disseminating support materials,
among other deliverables. As the pandemic wore on, Learning Designers directly supported
faculty with developing summer courses via the Design Your Online Course (DYOC) Canvas
course and individualized consultation on online pedagogy and quality standards. The
Digital Learning Training and Development area met the increased demand and provided
excellent assistance to faculty facilitating their courses in the online environment,
many for the first time. The production team lent equipment and offered guidance to
faculty who needed to produce video content on their own, and edited the self-produced
videos to reflect the highest quality, particularly for courses that typically took
place in lab environments. Thanks to the tireless efforts of the Digital Learning
team, faculty were amply supported in their efforts to deliver course materials to
students throughout the pandemic.
USF Libraries Research & Instruction Team
USF Libraries, All Campuses
With the dual challenges of consolidation and COVID-19, USF faculty needed access
to high-quality, online resources that helped teach students about critical searching,
evaluation, and research skills. The Research & Instruction Librarians from all three
USF campuses came together to build an online Information + Data Literacy program.
The new USF Libraries Information + Data Literacy Workshops were short, Canvas based
workshops with embedded text, videos, and interactive quizzes. Collaboration, assessment,
and meeting cross-disciplinary instructional needs were at the core of this program.
Twenty-one workshops were made available, guiding students from an introduction to
USF Libraries resources and services, to teaching fundamental searching and evaluation
skills, to supporting disciplinary research expertise and high impact practices. Over
2,500 USF students from all three campuses and a wide range of departments, completed
at least one Info + Data Literacy canvas workshop. Students reported that the workshops
helped them learn how to read scientific papers, understand the difference between
primary and secondary sources, and learned how to search an online database. The work
and commitment of the USF Libraries Research & Instruction Team continues to support
faculty instruction and student success across OneUSF.
Office of Orientation, Orientation & Campus Visitation, Department of Student Support
Student Success, All Campuses
Since the announcement of consolidation, the Orientation Teams across OneUSF pulled
together to provide a seamless transition for new undergraduate students and their
families. While not officially consolidated at this time, the work demonstrated by
these teams were in sync from the onset. Met early on with the challenges of the state
regulated Orientation fee, these offices identified and created opportunities for
collaborative programming, use of technology and communication and outreach. Joining
forces and not losing sight of what was most important, the teams set forth to create
Orientation content, leadership and program curriculum, and onboarding assistance.
When met with the challenges of COVID, these areas were able to devise a plan to switch
Orientation modality with only a few weeks’ notice. Working together with university
stakeholders, Innovative Education and IT to deliver a world class Orientation experience,
the team met the enrollment goals and satisfied student and family needs for a successful
start in their USF career. The hard work of the Orientation Teams across OneUSF,
countless hours of behind the scenes, and unfaltering dedication to student success,
assisted in the enrollment of one of USF's largest cohorts of First Year students.
Academic Services Administrator, Debbie Nye Sembler Student Success Center, St. Petersburg Campus
When it was determined the university would be operating virtually beginning in March
2020, the Debbie Nye Sembler Student Success Center on the St. Petersburg Campus,
faced an unprecedented challenge, how to shift all tutoring and supplemental instruction
services to an online format. Within a week, Frank Gresham researched digital options,
and using only Microsoft products, incurring no additional costs, he created an appointment
system using Bookings, separate subject channels for drop-in tutoring within Teams,
and a virtual desk where Student Success Center staff greeted and assisted people
in real-time. Most notable among these innovative solutions was the Virtual Desk.
Created using a standing Microsoft Teams appointment Monday - Friday, the Virtual
Desk garnered high praise from students and faculty, particularly early on in the
pandemic, when many offices were difficult to reach. This personal touch made the
difference to students isolated from friends and sometimes family, who yearned to
"see" and connect with other people. Frank’s outstanding and innovative thinking
helped remove a few barriers for students seeking academic support enabling the Student
Success Center to continue serving USF students without any significant gaps in service.
The COMPASS Student Experience Team
Student Success, St. Petersburg Campus
The COMPAS Student Experience on the St. Petersburg campus develops and provides programs
and initiatives for first- and second-year students and transfers. These programs
provide transformative support experiences to students throughout their transition
and university journey. COMPASS has embraced technology and social media platforms
before and since the pandemic to support the Student Success’ learning outcomes and
curriculum. COMPASS also partners closely with faculty and academic units for an innovative
and integrative approach to blending curricular and co-curricular learning. One aspect
of this unit’s success is the peer mentoring program. Connecting first time in college
and transfer students with a student leader, Peer Coach, guidance for student success
through one-on-one coaching has proven beneficial. A few highlights of the impact
of COMPASS include: over 63% virtual engagement with FTIC students through the peer
coaching program; over 70+ programs and events within the 2020-2021 academic year
utilizing technology and virtual spaces; and over 1,700 Bulls and students from around
the world connected through The Pen Pal program, an international opportunity created
to meet students’ engagement needs during the pandemic. COMPASS leverages powerful
and innovative opportunities with campus partners and stakeholders to advance the
work of Student Success.
Chief Nursing Officer and Senior Vice President, Tampa General Hospital
Tampa General Hospital, recognized by U.S. News & World Report as the top hospital
in the region, is honored by The USF College of Nursing for the extraordinary contributions
made to student success during the COVID-19 pandemic. The College of Nursing has a
longstanding association with Tampa General Hospital, specifically with the department
of Nursing. Practicing nurses and nursing students joined the front lines in the battle
against COVID-19, tasked with caring for patients and families under highly stressful
circumstances. COVID-19 presented an array of unprecedented challenges for undergraduate
and graduate nursing clinical education. The Tampa General Hospital nursing service
assisted in providing clinical placements for 109 USF undergraduate nursing students
when our students were not allowed in other facilities due to the pandemic, while
our graduate nursing students conducted COVID-19 rounds on recently discharged patients.
This partnership exemplifies how the significant shortage of highly skilled registered
nurses in Florida is addressed by capitalizing on the USF College of Nursing proven
track record of high graduation, licensure, employment rates, and a strong partnership
with Tampa General Hospital.
Executive Director, St. Petersburg Innovation District
The St. Pete Innovation District and especially the Executive Director, Alison Barlow
have partnered with USF St. Petersburg on the Innovation Scholars Career Exploration
Program. Designed as a career exploration program for first-year, first time in college
students, Innovation Scholars connects students in their first semester with business
professionals from downtown St. Petersburg for mentorship. The program allows students
to be exposed to professionals, industries, and occupations that are related to their
interests, broadening their career options post-graduation and solidifying major choice.
Now in its second year, the program has doubled in size and proven popular with students
and mentors alike, while boosting student retention and confidence in major selection.
From the program’s inception in 2019, Alison proved to be a powerful connector and
tireless program promoter. Utilizing her wide-ranging mental rolodex, Alison recruited
senior executives from local organizations to serve as mentors for our students, and
convinced dozens of senior-level professionals in downtown St. Petersburg to become
committed partners in this program. Alison Barlow personifies what it means to be
an exemplary partner in a student success initiative and has been integral to the
success of the Innovation Scholars Program.
REGIONAL CHANCELLOR AWARD SARASOTA-MANATEE
Dr. Jody McBrien
Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow, 2021-2022
Professor – Interdisciplinary Global Studies, Sarasota-Manatee Campus
Dr. Jody McBrien is well-known for the international research she conducts with refugees.
She is also a highly effective teacher encouraging her students to excel through engaging
with critical thinking and examining multiple perspectives. She uses her scholarship
to teach about challenging topics such as migration, discrimination, poverty, sexual
orientation, torture, and genocide. An example is an assignment in her International
Human Rights and Human Migration courses. For three semesters, Dr. McBrien applied
for and received funding to provide her students with two 1-hour interviews with refugees
located throughout the world using the services of NaTakallam, an organization that
pairs students with refugees living in Uganda, Iraq, Colombia, and other countries
using Skype. Students have described this assignment as “life changing” and “the best
assignment I have ever had in college.” When the Sarasota-Manatee campus chose Critical
Thinking (“Incredi-bull Critical Thinking,” or “IBCT”) as its Quality Enhancement
Plan, Dr. McBrien completed work to make her undergraduate courses ICBT courses. Although
USF Sarasota-Manatee does not have Ph.D. programs, McBrien has served on nine dissertation
committees (at USF and internationally), two Master’s thesis committees, and has mentored
13 Honors students. Dr. McBrien consistently makes significant contributions that
advance student success at USF.
Sarasota-Manatee Campus Virtual Book Club Coordinators
Library Services and Office of Student Engagement, Sarasota-Manatee Campus
When the University moved to remote instruction, some students felt isolated and needed
opportunities to connect with the campus community. In response, USF Sarasota-Manatee
Assistant Librarian Jessica Szempruch collaborated with the Kati Hinds, Office of
Student Engagement, to build a virtual book club (VBC) to engage the students and
the Sarasota-Manatee community. Library specialist Evan Fruehauf and student worker
Scarleth Andino also helped organize and facilitate student VBC engagement. All aspects
of student accessibility were considered including: access to technology, ability
to purchase books, and how to create an inclusive virtual environment. Students recommended
and voted on which books to read and those under financial strain could sign up to
receive a free book funded and mailed out by the Office of Student Engagement. Since
VBC’s founding, over 110 people have participated; approximately 80% undergraduate,
15% graduate, and 10% staff and faculty. For VBC books that were adapted into movies,
several Netflix Virtual Watch Parties were organized. Thus, while social distancing
in their own homes, the students could share popcorn and a movie night with their
friends. The student response was overwhelmingly positive and the strong participation
ensured the Virtual Book Club would continue when on-campus activities resumed.
REGIONAL CHANCELLOR AWARD ST. PETERSBURG
Dr. Patti Helton
Regional Vice Chancellor of Student Success, St. Petersburg Campus
Dr. Helton cares deeply about our students and is committed to inclusion, justice,
equity and diversity. In March 2020, the tragedy that ensued in our country with Mr.
George Floyd, demonstrated how the construct of race and racism continues to remain
undiscussed in many circles. This challenge prompted Dr. Helton to establish a space
where colleagues could come together to explore the dynamics of race and racism. This
was the first ever “race and social justice hour” within the unit, and it continues
to this day. The program is a monthly opportunity for the campus to gather and learn
about the complexities of race, racism, power, privilege and oppression. Dr. Helton
prioritizes this space as critical to our success as educators in service of students.
As one can imagine, resistance shows up in a myriad of ways and through it all Dr.
Helton remains unflinching in her goal to center the concept of race as important
to our collective work. While the work on race and racism highlights only one dimension
of Dr. Helton’s leadership, we are confident that we will continue to move from conversation
to tangible and measurable action as we contribute to the development and success
of our students at USF.
Joseph A. Puccio, MD
Executive and Medical Director, Student Health Services, Tampa Campus
Dr. Joseph A. Puccio answered the University’s call for an elevated response to the
pandemic, while ensuring access to medical and behavioral healthcare. Dr. Puccio has
been a key contributor to USF’s risk-reduction strategies as a COVID task force member.
A few of Dr. Puccio’s contributions: In accordance with One USF, Dr. Puccio ensured
continuous medical services on all campuses without interruption from the COVID-19
pandemic. New medical clinics were launched at Sarasota-Manatee and CAMLS. He initiated
a procedure for students abroad with immunization & insurance registration holds to
matriculate. Dr. Puccio supported academic continuity by expanding medical/COVID
testing services on all 4 campuses & USF Health professional colleges. He also updated
clinical protocols to launch tele-health appointments, 7 days/week so students could
safely access medical services, and he coordinated with USF Morsani College of Medicine
to repetitively test all medical students throughout academic year, and much more.
Dr. Puccio continuously ensured medical support for students' academic success, without
compromising the health and safety of the USF community. Through a global pandemic,
his inspiring leadership and unfaltering dedication supported the ongoing health of
students and their academic success. Dr. Puccio has been a shining example of servant
leadership at USF.
Innovative Education Digital Learning
Cross Campus Collaboration, All Campuses
The Digital Learning team was at the forefront of USF's sudden transition to remote
learning in Spring 2020. This team worked tirelessly to provide support for the faculty
teaching online, the faculty preparing for future classes for online learning, and
the wide-ranging courses that immediately had to pivot to the online environment.
The 36-member team was instrumental in the development of the Faculty Continuity Toolkits
and adapting standards to ensure courses remained high quality and impactful. The
training resources guided faculty and other areas throughout the campuses in leveraging
tools like Canvas and Microsoft Teams. Working collaboratively with teams across
campuses, including IT and the Academy of Teaching and Learning Excellence (ATLE),
the Digital Learning team led the way forward in an unprecedented and uncertain time.
An example of the impact of Digital Learning comes from Summer 2020, when new freshman
took 100% online classes in their first term at USF. Students reported comments like
“I love the class interaction,” and “This course has been very thorough and easy to
understand online, which can be difficult.” The Digital Learning team found innovative
ways to meet USF’s goals and the impact of their work during 2020 will be felt for
years to come.