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The University of Tampa, or UT, is a private, co-educational university in Downtownmarker Tampa, Floridamarker. It is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. In 2006, the University celebrated its 75th anniversary. UT offers over 100 undergraduate degree options, along with master's degree programs in business administration, accounting, finance, teaching, marketing, innovation management, and nursing. UT’s John H. Sykes College of Business is one of 45 schools that The Princeton Review has added to its annual best business schools guide in 2007. Selecting it for its 2007 edition of Best 282 Business Schools (Random House/Princeton Review Books).


UT has approximately 6,291 students from 46 U.S. states. Many students come from northern and northeastern states, attracted by the warm weather, the nearby beaches, and the beautiful campus. Students from Floridamarker make up over half of the student body. Over 100 countries are represented within the student body, giving it a rich cultural diversity.


One of Plant Hall's many minarets.
UT offers nearly 100 degree programs and areas of study for undergraduate and graduate students. The graduate school offers nine master's degree programs and seven concentrations, and is accredited by The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). An evening school is also offered for students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Classes are kept small, maintaining a 15-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. UT employs no teaching assistants.

Beginning in 2007, the University was re-organized into four colleges: the College of Natural and Health Sciences; the College of Math, Education, and Social Sciences; the College of Business; and the College of Arts & Letters. As of 2006, the graduate school had a separate dean and budget, essentially allowing it to operate independently from the more undergraduate-focused programs.

Some of UT's most popular majors include communication, biology, marine science, management, criminology, and a four-year nursing program.

UT recently began work on a journalism major, and a minor is already in place. The student-run newspaper The Minaret has won back-to-back awards as Florida's Top College Paper and writers have won numerous awards from the Florida College Press Association. The Minaret was also named a finalist in the Associated Collegiate Press Pacemaker awards, making the student paper one of the top 25 weekly college newspapers in the country.

To aid students in the pursuit of a degree, the University offers several learning communities. The Academic Center for Excellence (ACE) provides students with free tutoring in a variety of subjects by students who have passed the relevant classes with an A grade and also have passed a rigorous competence exam in their chosen tutoring area. The Saunders Writing Center provides students with a free tutoring service for documents ranging from research papers to resumes. In addition to these services, UT was one of the first schools to implement a two-semester freshman orientation program. These “Gateways” classes are taught by UT professors who volunteer an hour each week, covering topics from time management and study tips to the history of UT and the Tampa Bay area. In addition, each student's Gateways professor helps him or her schedule second- and third-semester courses, and select a personal academic advisor, also a professor, for guidance throughout college.

UT also offers a host of international study-abroad options led by UT professors. The University is an associate member of the European Council of International Schools (ECIS).

The University of Tampa has an Honors Program which "allows students to go beyond the classroom and regular course work to study one-on-one with faculty through enrichment tutorials, Honors Abroad, internships, research and classroom-to-community outreach."


UT's Athletic Logo.
The University of Tampa competes at the NCAA Division II level in the Sunshine State Conference (SSC). The University's mascot is The Spartan. UT is among the top schools in the SSC numbering student-athletes named to the Commissioner's Honor Roll.

Spartan teams have won NCAA-II titles in men's soccer (1981, 1994 and 2001), women's soccer (2007), baseball (1992, 1993, 1998, 2006 and 2007), golf (1987 and 1988), and volleyball (2006). With their win in 2007 the UT baseball team became the first team in Div. II baseball to win consecutive titles since UT won in 1992 and 1993.

UT fielded a men's football team from 1933 to 1974, and was the original team playing in Tampa Stadiummarker. The team officially moved up to Division I in 1971 and defeated the Miami Hurricanes in 1970 and 1972. Several of its players went to the NFL and it won the Tangerine Bowl. However attendance lagged. President B.D. Owens said that the program lost $755,000 in its three years of Division I and said at that rate the program would bankrupt the school. The program was terminated at the end of the 1974 season.

UT also competes in cross country and track. In addition to varsity sports, UT also competes in crew events around the nation. Every spring UT hosts a crew regatta, attracting teams from across the United States.

The Sports Hall of Fame at UT includes former New York Yankees Lou Piniella and Tino Martinez, and former NFL players Freddie Solomon of the San Francisco 49ers and John Matuszak of the Oakland Raiders. Matuszak was also an actor and participated in the World's Strongest Man competition. As an actor, he is probably most remembered as Sloth in The Goonies (1985).


Plant Hall - UT's main building - is heavily steeped in Moorish influences, and serves as a leading example of Moorish Revival architecture in the southeastern United States. Plant Hall also serves as a focal point of downtown Tampa, and is a local landmark. The school's newspaper is named The Minaret, a reference to the spires adorning Plant Hall. Formerly the old Tampa Bay Hotelmarker, Plant Hall is a National Historic Landmark built in 1891 by Henry B. Plant. In addition to serving as the main location of classrooms and faculty and administrative offices, the building also houses the Henry B.marker Plant Museummarker dedicated to the hotel’s glory days. The museum regularly holds special exhibits, often highlighting the late-19th century, and admission is free for all students. The campus also includes the former McKay Auditorium, built in the 1920s and remodeled in to late 1990s to become the John H. Sykes College of Business.

The UT campus is relatively small for a school with over 5,600 students. On its east side is the Hillsborough River, and Kennedy Boulevard is to the south. Recent expansions have seen the campus grounds move northward and eastward following purchases of sections of Tampa Preparatory School and vacant lots across the east-side railroad tracks.

The Babson Anti-Gravity Rock

Although the University is located in a major metropolitan area, palm trees, stately oaks, rose bushes, and azaleas can be found in abundance on campus. UT’s grounds include Plant Park. The park is a landscaped, palm-tree-lined, riverside area in front of Plant Hall's main entrance. It is open to students and Tampa residents at all hours, and features cannons from Tampa’s original harbor fort and the Sticks of Fire, a large sculpture that serves as a gathering place for many campus organizations. Banana trees and majestic oaks are scattered throughout the park. It also is home to the oak tree under which Hernando de Soto supposedly met the chief of the local Native-American tribes upon first coming ashore at what is now Tampa. Finally, the campus includes the location of the former Flordia State Fair grounds, where legend has it that Babe Ruth hit a home run of 630 feet, the longest of his career. The Fairgrounds now house the Campus's soccer stadium, intramural fields, two dorms, and will soon have a Student Chapel.

UT is also one of few schools with an anti-gravity monument from Roger Babson's Gravity Research Foundation. The "Anti-Gravity Rock", as its commonly referred to, is located on the crosswalk between the College of Business parking lot and the Library, at the very end of the Science wing of Plant Hall. The stone's location is somewhat ironic, yet appropriate, given that Babson's scientific views were shared by few if any scientists.

Residence halls

About 70% of all UT students live on the University's main campus. UT is known among its students and visitors as having some of the better residence halls in the region. All but three of the nine on-campus residence halls have been built since 1998, with one just completed in 2006 and another completed in fall 2007. All residence halls are co-ed and wired for broadband Internet access and cable television. Two dorms, Straz Hall and Rescom, offer apartment-style living with each student having a private room but sharing a bathroom, kitchen, and common area with three others. Five dorms, Smiley, McKay Hall, Boathouse, Austin Hall, and Vaughn Center, offer more-traditional dormitory arrangements, with two or three students in a connected suite sharing bathroom and open living areas. Two halls, Brevard and Stadium Center, currently offer a hybrid package with students sharing a common area but without a kitchen. A small room sleeps one or two students and opens into a common area and restroom area with another small room. Finally, Urso hall provides students with what is essentially a studio apartment, a private suite consisting of a bed, closet, kitchenette, and restroom. Every residence hall also offers a small assortment of private single rooms.

The Howard Johnson Plaza hotel, located about from campus, also houses some students. Two students typically stay in each room, which is equipped with two double beds, a bathroom, and closet space. The university's wireless internet is available, along with cable television. A shuttle bus provides transportation to/from campus, or students can take the 15-20 minute walk.

Student dining

Vaughn Center also serves as the campus student union. UT in all has 22 unique dining locations. Located on the first two floors of Vaughn is a full-service cafeteria called the "Caf" by students, with multiple dining stations, each with a particular style of cooking. Also in Vaughn is a large two story dining area and lobby that offers an Internet cafe and the Spartan Club. This area is collectively known to the students as simply "The Grill." The "Grill" includes a fast food grill, a Chick-fil-A, a salad shop, a Einstein Bros.marker Bagelsmarker and a Cuban Sandwich Shop; The Spartan club located on the second floor overlooking the Grill features pool tables arcade games. The club and grill has music chosen by students playing at all times and also features several TV’s and a big screen projector. Also on the second floor of Vaughn Center a full theater can be found where movies are shown every Friday night, and which hosts student government meetings on Tuesdays. All student-related offices are also located on the second floor, such as those for Student Activities, Student Government, and Greek Life. Finally, the second floor of Vaughn Center has a full-service commuter lounge with a big-screen TV, lockers, and desks.

Other UT dining options include a Boar's Head Deli. The Rathskeller or the "Rat" is an old-style pub located in the basement of Plant Hall.

Stadium Center offers another higher end option to the student union in Vaughn. Most of the same style of foods are offered as the ones in Vaughn but with a premium upscale format. The Stadium Center Student Union contains a Dairy Queen/Orange Julius, a tex-mex style restaurant and grill called Salsa Rico, a convenience store stocked only with premium and gourmet brands, a coffee shop called Jazzman's, a new and somewhat novel dining establishment called Pandini's that offers premium Italian dining options, and a sit-down restaurant called the Panache, which serves in both buffet style and a reservations format in which students can sit and be waited on by professional servers.


UT has about thirty computer labs and about seventy wireless zones around campus. The John Sykes College of Business, in addition to housing a computer lab, has a Stock Market Lab, equipped with terminals and plasma screen TVs for teaching finance majors the intricacies of the stock market. The College of Natural and Health Sciences maintains a remote Marine Science Research Center on Tampa Bay with extensive equipment including research vessels, used by students and faculty for studying the delicate balance of nature in Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.

The Macdonald-Kelce Library at the University of Tampa has more than 275,000 books and 1,600 periodicals, reference materials, government documents, audio-visual tapes, CDs and records, Media Services equipment and support, and special collections, including: Florida military materials, old and rare books, and local history and UT archives. The library also offers reference assistance and bibliographic instruction, interlibrary loans and reserve materials, computer labs (with free unlimited printing) and study rooms.

For student recreation there is an on-campus aquatic center with an Olympic-size pool and a deep swimming section for scuba classes, all open to students at various times. For drier recreation, the UT campus offers sand volleyball, outdoor basketball courts, a fully equipped intramural sports gym with indoor courts, intramural softball fields, tennis courts, a ropes course, a soccer field, a running track, intramural baseball fields, a multi-use intramural field, and a fully-equipped workout center that underwent a major renovation in 2005. Also on campus primarily for athlete use is a 600 seat baseball stadium.

The University of Tampa Theater Department also hosts student produced and acted plays across Kennedy Blvd. in the Falk Theater. Falk also hosts large academic gatherings, student productions and music shows and freshman convocation. In 2003 Falk theater was featured as a setting in the film The Punisher.

It was announced in May 2008 that the Sykes Chapel and Center for Faith and Values would be built using funds from a donation by longtime UT benefactor John H. Sykes. The non-denominational building is scheduled to be completed by Fall of 2009 and will stand where the old fairground buildings were located across from Brevard Hall. The 12,750 square foot, 65-foot vaulted ceiling, east-west oriented facility will include a 250-seat main hall, meeting and meditation rooms, pipe organ, a plaza and 60-bell musical sculpture/fountain.

Fraternities and sororities

Dome of Plant Hall's Fletcher Lounge.

UT has a vibrant and thriving community of sororities and fraternities, currently overseen by a Director of Greek Life. The history of UT and its Greeks is a somewhat contentious one. The first Greek groups appeared on campus in the early 1950s and by the 1970s they had developed a thriving culture that included the tradition of having a rock on campus with the organizations' letters on it. However, by the late-1970s all Greeks were removed from UT and all Greek housing was destroyed or converted for other uses. In fact, the City of Tampa, with the University's support, even went so far as to pass a law banning more than three unrelated people of the same sex living together. This was an attempt to stamp out UT Greek life, and the ban remains in place.

Despite these obstacles, Greeks resurged on campus in the mid-1980s. Many UT students formed local Greek groups developing traditions and rituals anew. After these homegrown groups had established a campus presence, many lobbied national organizations, particularly those on campus before the ban, to assimilate them. In this way, Greek life returned to UT and with many of the same fraternities and sororities of the past. Today UT boasts nine nationally-recognized fraternities, two colonies of national fraternities, and one more fraternity scheduled to colonize the campus within 2 years. Ten sororities also call UT home, with one more sorority scheduled to colonize the campus in the future.


The University of Tampa was established by Frederic Spaulding in 1931 as Tampa Junior College, and was founded to serve as an institution of higher education for Florida’s west coast. In 1933 UT moved to its current location, the then defunct Tampa Bay Hotel. With the move, and the additional room it provided, Mr. Spaulding decided to expand the scope of the junior college to a full university and the University of Tampa was born. In 1941 the city of Tampa signed a 99 year lease on the hotel with the school for a dollar a year. The lease excluded the south east wing of the hotel to allow for the housing of the Henry B. Plant Museum. The University prospered for the next few decades, becoming a well-respected institution of learning in the Tampa Bay area. In 1951 the University received full SACS accreditation.

However, in the early 1990s financial troubles hit the school. The University incurred consecutive years of budget deficits as a result of declining student enrollment. The University's President resigned, faculty left for better opportunities, and the University faced an uncertain future.

In 1995, the Board of Trustees elected a new president to lead the school out of its troubles and prevent bankruptcy. Ronald Vaughn, who was then Dean of the College of Business, was selected to bring the school out of the red. His initial efforts were aimed at bringing the campus up-to-date with new dorms and a major renovation to the business school. Once these projects were underway, Dr. Vaughn launched the "Take UT to the Top" campaign. This major financial initiative aimed to return the University to financial stability, and then to raise the University’s profile to that of an elite school. The project focused on fundraising in the alumni community and among the business people of the Tampa Bay area, who so heavily rely on UT graduates.

The "Take UT to the Top" campaign's goal was to raise 70 million dollars in 10 years, and to restore the University's endowment. By the time the campaign ended, UT had raised 83 million dollars. A major reason for this success was the generous contributions of the John H Sykes family of Tampa, Florida. A gift of $10-million by the family in 1997 was followed by one for $28-million in 2000, thought to be the largest such gift to a Florida university at the time. These generous gifts were all the more impressive since no one in the Sykes family had ever attended the University of Tampa. More details of the Sykes family's gifts can be found in this news story.

The additional funds raised by the financial campaign have been used to purchase new land and to implement a faster-paced building program. They also have been used to hire additional faculty, permitting the university to expand its student body’s size and still maintain a 15:1 student-to-professor ratio. For his efforts in rescuing the university and increasing enrollment, Vaughn has been rewarded with a salary that is in the top 10 of mid-sized, private institutions.

Notable Alumni & Attendees

The University of Tampa has produced thousands of alumni over the years. They include Pete Peterson, former U.S. Representative and Ambassador; former Secretary of the Interior of Mexico Juan Camilo Mouriño; actress and wrestler Joan Laurer; author Dennis James Kennedy; and Major League Baseball players Tino Martinez and Lou Pinella.

Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich attended UT for two years. In 2008, Rob Blagojevich, a UT alumnus, delivered the May commencement speech, telling graduates that it's not what you know, but rather whom you know, that will get you ahead in life. Both Blagojeviches have been indicted in a federal pay-for-play scheme for attempting to sell President Barack Obama's Illinois Senate seat.

See also

Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida


External links

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