Graduation rules are bit different at Eckerd
Last year at Eckerd College, about one-third of the graduates walked across the commencement stage in bare feet. The waterfront school is known for its more casual vibe.
So the Eckerd folks were a bit amused when the University of South Florida announced last week it would not put up with unruly behavior during its upcoming graduation ceremonies. It singled out taking selfies with president Judy Genshaft as a big no-no, saying it wanted to preserve the dignity and seriousness of the occasion.
When Eckerd holds its commencement on May 18, there will be no such bans because selfies have not been a problem, said school spokesman Tom Scherberger. "Besides that," he added, "we're not big on bans … we're a little bit different."
All in the family
Eckerd's commencement speaker will be Melissa Harris-Perry, a political science professor who soon will be joining the faculty at Wake Forest University. She also is host of a news and opinion show that airs Saturdays and Sundays on MSNBC.
In addition, Harris-Perry is director of the Anna Julia Cooper Project on Gender, Race, and Politics in the South, which studies how women's politics in the South are shaped by the intersection of gender and race. She previously has been on the faculties at the University of Chicago and Princeton University — and she has strong connections to Eckerd.
"My own beloved niece is among the graduates, as was her older sister in 2011," Harris-Perry said. "Eckerd is truly part of our family now."
Said Eckerd President Donald Eastman: "In an era characterized by impoverished political discourse, Dr. Harris-Perry, through her show, has created a forum for probing many of the vexing political and social issues facing our nation."
When USF St. Petersburg holds its graduation ceremony Sunday at Mahaffey Theater, the Outstanding Graduate Award will go to Erik Richardson, 25, who entered the school as a business major but switched to biology when a recurring knee injury got him interested in medicine. After being treated for the injury at All Children's Hospital, Richardson began volunteering there. In 2010, he formed a Premed Club to get premed students involved in community projects in downtown St. Petersburg. Two years ago, he formed a "Premed Pals" program in which students build one-on-one relationships with cystic fibrosis and other intensive care patients at All Children's. Richardson has a 3.85 science GPA and plans to enter medical school.
Their secret: 'creative problem-solving'
For the third year in a row, Entrepreneurship students at USF St. Petersburg have won the national simulated startup competition hosted by the Collegiate Entrepreneurs' Organization.
"CEO is the largest student entrepreneurship group in the nation, with 264 universities as members," said William Jackson, D.B.A., director of USFSP's Sustainable Entrepreneurship & Innovation program. "Our three-time win feels particularly good given the competition."
Participants in the competition operate a virtual company over six quarters in simulation time. Points are accumulated as team members make decisions about the business.
"We place a lot of emphasis on creative problem-solving in our courses," said Jackson. "It's just one of the advantages we brought to the table.
Odds and ends
Eckerd College has been ranked by Princeton Review as one of the top "green colleges" in the country. … USF announced it will confer nearly 6,500 degrees this weekend across its system. … USF's main campus in Tampa is holding two ceremonies today and three on Saturday, all at the Sun Dome. … St. Petersburg College's spring commencement will be held May 13 at Tropicana Field.