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Mark Schreiner / WUSF News

The USF Herd of Thunder marching band had an eventful 2012, which included performances on the Today show and at the Republican National Convention.

But 2013 might be tough to top, as they'll ring in the New Year with possibly the most important performance in band history.

More than a hundred members of the USF marching band, along with two alumni members who now live overseas, will take part in London's 27th annual New Year's Day Parade. The HOT is the only major American university band invited to the event, which is expected to be seen by more than 220 million people worldwide. The parade will be broadcast by WUSF TV.

A USF student is giving thanks to those who came to her aid and saved her life after she collapsed outside a classroom during finals week.

Mark Schreiner / WUSF News

It's a four-course meal fit for a king - or at least a dedicated foodie - and it's the work of USF Sarasota-Manatee students.

Start with hors d'oeuvres like passed wild mushroom topped with fontina cheese and pulled lamb bruschetta... move on to a salad of four different greens from Bay Area farms... then "turf and turf," a pairing of Cornish game hen and seared beef tenderloin, alongside a heirloom tomato stack and parsnip puree... and wrap it up all up with "Sweet Endings," a trip of pear cobbler, chocolate fudge brownie over mint syrup, and Madagascar vanilla bean ice cream.

That's the menu planned and prepared by students in USF Sarasota-Manatee's College of Hospitality and Technology Leadership for the "HospitaBull" event held last month.

USF and The The Concession Golf Club in Bradenton will host the 2015 NCAA Division I Men's and Women's Golf Championships.

TBO.com

Over 2,900 students across the USF System received their diplomas this past weekend, and like most graduating classes, there were a few individual stories worth noting:

Big East Conference

While USF Athletic officials put up a brave front, questions remain about the school's athletic conference future as seven fellow Big East teams announced plans to defect this past weekend.

The seven schools, which do not field Football Bowl Series (FBS) level teams like USF does, unanimously voted to leave the conference on June 30, 2015.

Citing a source with knowledge of the situation, ESPN.com reports the seven non-Football Bowl Subdivision schools in the Big East have agreed to leave the conference. All that's left is figuring out how they'll depart, a decision that will have a huge effect on the three schools left behind, including USF.

Katy Hennig / USF News

Even as researchers unearth more information about what may lie under the ground of the Dozier School for Boys, the allegations of brutality that marked the reform school's history continue to also live on.

For months, a team of USF anthropologists and archeologists have been studying the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna - particularly the school’s Boot Hill Cemetery and surrounding woods. Now, with the release of its interim findings, Professor Erin Kimmerle says the question remains: just how many young men are buried on the reform school grounds.

USF St. Petersburg News

USF St. Petersburg students got a little extra help dealing with the stress of Finals Week in the form of wet noses and fuzzy faces.

Dogs from the Pinellas County chapter of Therapy Dogs International stopped by the Nelson Poynter Memorial Library Wednesday afternoon to give the students a furry study break.

Administrators of the non-football playing schools in the Big East Conference are expected to announce their plans in the next 24-48 hours, and the future may not look good for the University of South Florida. Sources said Wednesday it's becoming "more likely" the basketball schools will break away from the league's football members, including USF.

University of South Florida researchers announced earlier this week that they’ve found evidence of around 90 deaths and 50 gravesites at the defunct Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna.  Now, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is asking the Justice Department join the school’s anthropologists in broadening a search to look for more graves -  as well as forensic evidence of possible crimes.

ESPN.com reports the future of the Big East Conference continues to be in question. The three member schools that play football, including USF, are outnumbered by seven teams that don't field football teams. Representatives of those schools met with Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco this past weekend, as the option to dissolve the conference remains on the table.

Willie Taggart
Tampa Bay Times

USF didn't wait long, naming Willie Taggart as the third head football coach in the program's history, less than a week after firing Skip Holtz.

Speaking at a news conference Saturday afternoon, Taggart spoke of USF's history while promising a new brand of leadership in the future.

"I always said I wouldn't leave WKU unless I had a chance to go and win a national championship, and I truly believe that can be done here," Taggart said.

"It wasn't long ago USF was No. 2 in the country. It's been proven that we can get there," Taggart added. "What we have to do now is put everybody on the bus, put 'em in the right seat and let coach T drive this bus!"

One of the candidates to be the new USF football coach, Western Kentucky's Willie Taggart, may or may not have met with USF athletic director Doug Woolard. But Taggart's not saying much, instead focusing on preparations for his team's first-ever bowl game.

The Tampa Bay Times reports USF President Judy Genshaft is very enthused about the candidates interested in the vacant head football coaching position, saying the team has "a great future."

Today the final three reports in an overview of the scientific community's response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill is being released. One of the authors is University of South Florida biologist Steve Murawski, who was the chief scientist for the National Marine Fisheries Service during the disaster.

GoUSFBulls.com

The University of South Florida ends its 16th football season on the hunt for a new head coach.

Athletic director Doug Woolard said in a statement, released after the dismissal of Skip Holtz, that he plans to act quickly and will not use a conventional search firm.

When hired, the new USF football coach will become only the third football coach in USF's history.

Below, Woolard explains the reasoning for firing Holtz after three years as head coach and how he plans to move the USF football program forward.

STATEMENT FROM DOUG WOOLARD

Skip Holtz Releases Statement after USF's Firing

Dec 2, 2012
GoUSFBulls.com

The University of South Florida Football program released the following written statement  Sunday afternoon from Skip Holtz in response to his firing as the head coach.

Holtz is only the second coach to run USF's fledgling football program. The other, Jim Leavitt, was fired in January 2010 for allegedly hitting a player and then lying about the incident.

STATEMENT FROM SKIP HOLTZ

USF

The University of South Florida is expected to fire football coach Skip Holtz today, according to university sources. The school has scheduled a news conference at 4 p.m. today. The firing follows three tumultuous seasons and a 16-21 overall record.

The Tampa Bay Times reports the move, which came a day after a season-ending 27-3 loss to Pittsburgh, is a costly one for USF.

Judy Lowry / USF Research News

The University of South Florida's research reputation continues to rise.

The prestigious American Association for the Advancement of Science has named 15 USF faculty members as Fellows. This places the school in the top ten universities worldwide with the most new Fellows named this year, trailing only the University of Michigan (19 Fellows), Ohio State University (18), University of California-Davis (17) and Vanderbilt University (17), tying the University of Southern California (15) and ahead of such schools as Duke University (14) and Indiana University (12).

USF's Student Government and the company that runs the USF Sun Dome have a message for English indie rockers Mumford and Sons: We want you.

Specifically, they want the band to perform at USF on its worldwide tour promoting the new album, Babel.

"We have a lot of dedicated fans of Mumford & Sons; many of which even drove to see them perform at the Bonnaroo festival in Tennessee," said USF Student Body President, Brian Goff.

"The students here are passionate about the band and would love to have such great performers come on campus and showcase their talent.”

USF may soon be on the hunt for a new athletic conference to play in if just one more team defects from the Big East, according to the Providence Journal.

The Tampa Bay Times reports Tampa socialite Jill Kelley, already part of a national scandal for emails she allegedly sent to disgraced CIA Director David Petraeus and U.S. General John Allen, also sent emails to USF Health proposing a relationship--one between the university's med school and South Korea.

J. Meric / GoUSFBulls.com

As the seemingly never-ending game of musical chairs continues across the major NCAA conferences, is a seat at the Atlantic Coast Conference's table in the University of South Florida's future?

USF News

A University of South Florida professor is one of just four recipients of what's considered one of the nation's highest honors for undergraduate teaching.

Mechanical Engineering Professor Autar Kaw has been named "Professor of the Year" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

Kaw, who has taught at USF for 25 years, was selected in the category of Outstanding Doctoral and Research Universities Professor of the Year.

Amie Blodgett / USF News

Businessman Olin Mott was honored Thursday by the city of Tampa and USF's College of Education for his philanthropic support of a large number of Bay area organizations and charities.

Speaking at the college's 16th Annual "Education in Action" Luncheon (sponsored in part by WUSF), Mott said he's given so much time and money to programs like the College of Education with just one thing in mind: the future of young people.

"Youngsters today have more opportunity than anyone ever in the history of this country has got. They can move forward, just get the education, that's the main thing. Without that, there's no hope."

USF St. Petersburg News

The 20th Annual Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading is this Saturday, October 20th, at the USF St. Petersburg campus from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

While well-known authors like Dennis Lehane (speaking at the University Student Center at 10 a.m.) and Michael Grunwald (University Student Center at 2:30 p.m.) will present their latest works, three local figures profiled on this week's University Beat on WUSF 89.7 will also be speaking.

Over the past decade, hundreds of men have come forward to tell gruesome stories of abuse and terrible beatings they suffered at Florida's Dozier School for Boys, a notorious, state-run institution that closed last year after more than a century.

Known as the "White House Boys," these 300-some men were sent as boys to the reform school in the small panhandle town of Mariana in the 1950s and 1960s. They have joined together over the years to tell their stories of the violence administered in a small building on the school's grounds they knew as the White House.

WUSF 89.7 News

We may have a better idea what prompted University of South Florida Athletic Director Doug Woolard to speak out earlier this week with his tentative support for embattled football coach Skip Holtz.

Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times reports Board of Trustees chair John Ramil sent an email to USF President Judy Genshaft's chief of staff immediately after this past Saturday's 37-26 loss to Temple--an email that simply read "Disgusting and unacceptable. We have major problems with our football program."

That note was forwarded to Woolard, with an attachment: "Hope things are better. Make sure you have conversation with the Board Chair. Thanks."

Candace Kaw / USF College of the Arts

The curtain goes up tonight on the University of South Florida School of Theatre and Dance's production of the musical Hairspray. Here are five things to know about the show.

1. While the show from both John Waters' original 1988 film and the 2003 Tony Award-winning musical (along with the 2007 Hollywood adaptation), director/choreographer Andy Frye (who previously directed USF's productions of Rocky Horror Show and Hair) says USF's version is something all its own.

“We’re trying to use the original John Waters movie as inspiration. It’s a little darker and quirkier, which this new version is as well, but it’s a little ‘bubble gum’ and ‘cotton candy,’ and everything just like fun, fun, fun, and we just wanted to bring a darker side so we have somewhere to grow.”

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