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Mark Schreiner / WUSF 89.7 News

Like birthdays, every graduation ceremony is special for the people celebrating. But today's commencement ceremonies at USF will be extra special, as they're the university's 100th commencement convocation.

About 1,500 students from across the USF system will receive their degrees in a pair of ceremonies taking place at the USF Sun Dome.

Graduates of all colleges from USF St. Petersburg and the Colleges of Arts and Sciences and Business on the Tampa campus will be honored at 9 a.m.

USF Communications & Marketing

Students at the University of South Florida will no longer have the option of paying their tuition with a Visa card. 

The Tampa Bay Times reports that, starting next Thursday, Aug. 15, USF won't be able to accept the card for tuition because the school will be charging a 2.5 percent processing fee on all tuition payments made on plastic.  And that doesn't meet Visa's requirements. 

Katy Hennig / USF News

The excavation will soon begin to unearth the remains of boys believed to have died from alleged abuse at the Dozier School for Boys.

The Florida Cabinet today approved the request of USF researchers to exhume the bodies at the now-closed Florida Panhandle reform school to provide closure for the boys’ loved ones.

For months, University of South Florida researchers have been trying to dig up the bodies at the Marianna school, but their request has been denied several times, twice by the state, which is why 66-year-old Robert Straley, a former Dozier resident, says he was happily shocked when Governor Rick Scott and the rest of the Florida Cabinet approved the researchers’ request Tuesday.

USF Patel College of Global Sustainability

The University of South Florida is one of only 22 colleges to receive the highest score possible in The Princeton Review's "2014 Green Rating Honor Roll."

The Princeton Review, which is known primarily for its college prep programs and its ratings of colleges' educational performance, rated 832 schools based on data concerning their sustainability-related practices, policies and academic offerings.

Schools received scores between 60 and 99, with USF among 22 colleges getting that top mark and making the "Honor Roll."

The Cabinet agreed today to allow USF researchers to continue with the next step in a project they started two years ago: to account for all the burials by unearthing the boys' skeletal remains and, hopefully, identifying each of them. The researchers, using ground-penetrating radar, have already tallied some 50 burials in and around a clandestine graveyard surrounded by thick pines, 19 more than state investigators found in an earlier investigation ordered by former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist.

USF Health

Lori Stanton’s 89-year-old mother, Elli, has a neurological disorder where fluid builds up in the brain. In many cases, including Elli’s, it’s accompanied by severe dementia. Until recently, Stanton cared for her mom in her New Tampa home.

“It’s all-consuming, it’s morning to bedtime and then all night,” Stanton said.

Here's a pair of videos, courtesy of University of South Florida Communications & Marketing Department, taken in Washington, D.C. Monday, shortly after Kiersten Downs, Air Force veteran and former president of the USF Student Veterans Association, completed a 3,800 mile bike ride cross-country to raise funds and awareness for student veterans.

Biking USA

Congratulations to Kiersten Downs, former president of the University of South Florida Student Veterans Association. The Air Force veteran achieved her goals.

Monday around 4 p.m. she completed her 3,800 mile trek across the USA. She cycled with two goals: to raise awareness for student veterans and raise $50,000 for their non-profit organization, Student Veterans of America. She accomplished both.

As more and more facets of the Affordable Care Act take hold, the demand for nurse practitioners will surge. The University of South Florida is opening up places for would-be students.

Jessica Palombo / Florida Public Radio

Several more men are telling stories of abuse they say they suffered at the infamous state-run Dozier Reform School in the Panhandle town of Marianna.  A  group calling themselves the Black Boys at Dozier gathered at the campus Saturday calling for Gov. Rick Scott to allow researchers to exhume bodies in unmarked graves on the property.

The men who shared their stories lived on the part of the campus where researchers are trying to exhume at least 100 bodies in unmarked graves. A road separates the area from the rest of the campus.

At 18 years old, Gabrielle Turnquest has become the youngest person to pass Britain's bar exams.

The Florida native told NPR's Jackie Lyden her family influenced her decision to study law in the United Kingdom. Her mother had studied in the U.K. and she joined an older sister who was also studying law.

She graduated from college early, too — at 16, she was the youngest person to ever get a psychology degree from Liberty University in Virginia.

Credit Michael Spooneybarger / Reuters/Landov

9:00 p.m. Update w/quotes from USF & other FL government officials

Florida Gov. Rick Scott and other top state officials are being asked to grant a request from researchers to exhume human remains at the former Dozier School for Boys.

Researchers at the University of South Florida are fighting with the state over access to the grounds of a now-closed reform school.

For decades, the Dozier School for Boys was notorious for the harsh treatment boys received there. Now, a forensic anthropologist and her team want permission to exhume dozens of bodies they found in unmarked graves, but are meeting resistance from state officials.

White House Boys

Yoselis Ramos

The University of South Florida has sent a five-page, strongly-worded letter to Secretary of State Ken Detzner, asking him to reconsider his decision not to allow the school to exhume bodies at a former state reform school, the Dozier School for Boys.

Detzner denied the request because human bodies are not objects to be dug up for research.
 
The university's general counsel pointed out in a letter sent Monday that USF does not want to dig up the bodies for research, they just want to return the remains to their families.

Bill Vanderdecker / Merck & Co., Inc.

While onchocerciasis, or “river blindness,” is virtually non-existent in the United States, the parasitic disease affects around 18 million people worldwide. Before a drug treatment was developed in the mid 1990's, over half the adult populations of some remote villages of sub-Saharan Africa reportedly contracted the disease and lost their eyesight.

Katy Hennig / USF News

On Monday, Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner turned down a request from USF researchers to conduct exhumations on possible graveshafts at the former Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, leading Sen. Bill Nelson to "tweet" his disappointment with Detzner's boss, Gov. Rick Scott.

Nelson spoke out once again today, saying the buck stops with Scott.

"It clearly is, if not a direct attempt to sidestep, it is a lack of leadership," he said on a conference call from Washington, D.C.

"The people of Florida deserve the answers, the families deserve the answers - that's what leadership is all about and the Governor ought to step up and require this. He is the chief executive officer, he certainly can influence the Department of State.

Officials with the Hillsborough County Health Department confirmed that a University of South Florida student has tuberculosis, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Katy Hennig / USF News

The state has turned down a request by USF researchers to allow them to exhume bodies at the Boot Hill Cemetery at the former Arthur G. Dozier School in Marianna.

In a letter (see slideshow above) sent to anthropologists Erin Kimmerle and Christian Wells today, Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner said that by requesting permission to conduct exhumations, the "inquiry diverged from its original objectives."

He added that the state's Bureau of Archeological Research doesn't have the authority to allow the exhumation of human remains, "absent a danger to the grave site that actually threatened the loss or damage of those remains."

Ellen Kent / USF College of Public Health

When most people hear the phrase "occupational health and safety," they probably think of OSHA, the federal government organization that regulates workplace health and safety. Others may just think of researchers in huge moon suits, breathing through respirators like Darth Vader while they investigate some on-the-job mishap.

René Salazar wants students to think differently about the kinds of careers they can find under the occupational health and safety umbrella.

According to the assistant professor in USF’s Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, “You might be working for a sheriff’s office, you might be working with risk management, you might be working for a chemical facility, you might be working as a consultant on your own, you might be working for an energy generation facility.”

USF Dept. of Anthropology

USF researchers investigating grave sites at the former Dozier School for Boys have submitted more information to the state. They're hoping to look into a long-rumored second unmarked cemetery at the site.

Earlier this year, USF researchers investigating the Boot Hill cemetery on the grounds of the former reform school in Marianna submitted a request to the state to dig up suspected graveshafts to see if any of the young men who died under mysterious circumstances between 1911 and 1973 are buried there.

Last month, the state sent back a request for more information, and Tuesday, the researchers submitted a 15-page reply. Included in that reply was a request for access to a piece of land that could be a second burial site.

Amie Blodgett / USF News

Local businessman and philanthropist Olin Mott has died at the age of 92.

Mott, who dropped out of school after sixth grade to sell peanuts to help support his family during the Great Depression, created the Bay area tire store chain that bears his name after serving in World War II. 

Mott had been wounded during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 and received a Purple Heart. He later served in Army-Navy Intelligence and was the last survivor of his 80-man unit.

Mott also co-founded Joshua House, a shelter for abused or abandoned children, and was instrumental in securing the location of USF's Tampa campus as well as in bringing football to the university.

The interim president of Florida A&M University has lifted the suspension of the renowned Marching 100 band a year and a half after a drum major was beaten to death with fists and band instruments in a hazing incident.

The Associated Press reports FAMU's Interim President Larry Robinson announced the band's reinstatement Thursday. The scandal that followed the November 2011 hazing death of drum major Robert Champion led to the retirement of famed band director Julian White and also played a role in the resignation of former university president James Ammons.

Eric Younghans / USF Health

When USF Health CEO Dr. Stephen Klasko leaves Tampa in September, the longest-serving dean in the history of the USF Morsani College of Medicine will return to his hometown to take his dream job -- and he says he's doing it with no regrets.

Klasko, who announced last week he's leaving USF Health to become the president of Thomas Jefferson University and president/CEO of the Jefferson University Hospital System, spoke to WUSF's University Beat about his decision to move on.

Here are three highlights from the conversation:

Medtronic

Last week on WUSF's University Beat, we told you how attendees at the recent Students With Diabetes National Conference hosted by USF Health's Bringing Science Home heard about an "artificial pancreas."

While most of Florida's public universities bucked Governor Rick Scott's wishes and accepted an automatic 1.7 percent tuition increase dictated by state law, the state Board of Governors agreed with Scott and decided to decline a request from some of the schools to increase one fee.

Klasko Leaving USF

Jun 20, 2013
USF Health

Stephen Klasko, the longest-serving dean in the history of the USF Morsani College of Medicine and CEO of USF Health, has been named the new president of Thomas Jefferson University and president/CEO of the TJUH System.

Dalia Colón / WUSF

The investigation continues into the dozens of unmarked grave sites at the Florida School for Boys in Marianna, and for every question answered, another obstacle seems to pop up.

The reform school, also known as the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys, closed in 2011, amid suspicions of abuse and murder that took place for more than a century.

Mark Schreiner / WUSF 89.7 News

For the third year, young people from around the country gathered in Tampa for the Students With Diabetes National Conference -- a chance for them to find out what they need to do to handle the challenges of growing up with a disease that can take up a good portion of their time and energy.

More than 120 people from 23 states and three countries attended the three-day event hosted by USF earlier this month at the Sheraton Suites Tampa Airport Westshore.

SheetalGandhi.com

For the fourth year in a row, the Florida Dance Festival has returned to the University of South Florida, bringing a wide variety of live performances and classes with it.

The Festival kicks off Wednesday, June 19th, with "Bahu-Beti-Biwi," or "Daughter-In-Law, Daughter, Wife." It’s a solo performance piece featuring choreographer and performer Sheetal Gandhi.

USF Communications & Marketing

While Governor Rick Scott vetoed a three percent tuition increase for the state's public universities, the University of South Florida is the latest school getting around that by using inflation to raise tuition for the coming school year.

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