TAMPA — In 1963, more than 300 students accepted diplomas from a fledgling institution called the University of South Florida. Fifty years later, some of those students are coming back to visit a campus that has grown by leaps and bounds.
More than two dozen of USF's original graduates will attend a reunion on USF's Tampa campus Friday. They'll spend the day touring, visiting colleges, watching a historical presentation and meeting coaches. They'll end the day with a cocktail party and a 1960s-style dinner and dance.
Graduates from the first class include Earl Lennard, Hillsborough County's former schools superintendent and supervisor of elections, and David C. Jordan, who served as assistant director of USF's Fort Myers campus, which closed in 2007.
And they'll be back for more. After a brunch on campus Saturday morning, the alumni will attend USF's 1:30 p.m. commencement ceremony, where Jordan will address the new graduates.
USF was founded in 1956 and opened in 1960. The first graduation ceremonies were held in a parking lot on campus, which consisted of four buildings at the time. In honor of the first 50-year class, the USF Alumni Association has created the Golden Guard Society to induct a new class each year.
USF's current graduating class will be significantly larger than the original. The school will hand out 4,276 new degrees spanning three campuses.