About Us

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

> Awards Ceremony Video

Robert Seidler
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.

Champions Award

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Austin Jared
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.

Lisa Landis
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.

Collaboration Award

> Awards Ceremony Video

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.  

Innovation Award

> Awards Ceremony Video

Frank Gresham
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.

Partnership Award

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Annmarie Chavarria
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.

Allison Barlow
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.


> Awards Ceremony Video

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. 


> Awards Ceremony Video

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.

Provost Award 

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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.