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Some 'girl' moments with USF's new chief


© St. Petersburg Times, published March 4, 2001

Green is a flattering color for new University of South Florida president Judy Genshaft, a good thing since it has become the de facto official color of USF.

Genshaft came to the St. Petersburg campus on Thursday for the lunch meeting of Town and Gown, the university support group, in the courtyard of the just-opened Center for Teachers. And while the least important or interesting thing about her is what she wore, for the record she had on a seafoam green suit.

The Town and Gown members are influential women, some of whom, such as Marion Ballard, have been involved with USF for decades, so the president spoke to the group about a number of public issues. But the fun of lunch was getting to know her on a more personal basis. We observed that she and Donna Fleece wore identical beige pumps, and Evelyn Craft and Genshaft compared lapel pins. The silver one worn by Craft was a miniature version of the Arts Center facade, where she is executive director. Genshaft wore one that spelled out USF in gold and emeralds (green, of course), "a gift from my husband," she said. Royce Haiman, who survived the earthquakes during a recent trip to India, commented on the academic robe that Genshaft wore at the USF inauguration. Genshaft said when she arrived at USF, there were no official university robes for the president to wear on academic occasions, that past presidents had worn their own university gowns. "So I had one made in green that will be the official USF dress for future presidents. If the next one is a man, it might be a little short. But I'm hoping it will be in tatters before someone else wears it."

Two things on people's minds, besides USF, were the recent municipal primaries and Girl Scout cookies. "Do Si Dos," said Bill Heller, acting Vice President of the St. Petersburg campus. "I've got to stop eating them."

"My favorites are the Trefoils," said Betty Jean Miller.

"Thin Mints," said Fay Baynard. We all agreed there was nothing thin about them except their size.

Margo Fischer tells me the party on March 29 ath the Renaissance Vinoy Resort to honor her husband, outgoing Mayor Dave Fischer, is also a fundraiser for minority scholarships to Eckerd College.

Anne Gooden and Evelyn Moorefield talked about the Good Old Days when they both taught at West Central Elementary School, now part of the St. Petersburg High School campus. Sue Riggins and I talked about the Good Old Days in Bahama Shores when we were neighbors in that wonderful area on Big Bayou. Also nice to see were Hazel Hough; Margaret Wood; Nancy Crist; Fran Risser; Ginny Sexton, who made the beautiful flower arrangement on the buffet table; Sally Wallace; Judy Altenhoff; Fran Nohren; Sara Lonquist; Sue Corty; Helga Andrews and Jacqueline Cotman, who is to be commended for negotiating the patio so gracefully in a pair of leopard print mules, backless shoes that leave some of us ambulatorily challenged.

Judy Genshaft, as savvy, smart, articulate and important as she is, shared a "girl" moment with us: "I got halfway here and realized I left my purse at home. I walked out of the house with my car keys and my work. I don't have a compact or lipstick."

"Or a driver's license," someone said.

"Oh," she said. "I hadn't even thought of that."

* * *

Here's good news: A new guild has been formed to support Resurrection House, the residential program for homeless families that has an exceptionally good success rate in turning around lives. Founder Pat Campbell says the guild will be called the Encouragers, a name with biblical references, says Mrs. Campbell. She and Carol Russell are co-presidents, Kathy Stover is vice president, Dana Maley is treasurer and Shari Watson is secretary. The group is helping plan the annual breakfast on May 3.

* * *

Petal pushers, this is for you: Art in Bloom soon begins, a week-long celebration of all things floral at the Museum of Fine Arts organized by the Stuart Society.

It opens with Night of the Orchid on March 17, a cocktail party with buffet by Michael's on East to preview the dozens of floral creations -- some so massive they take up most of a small gallery space -- created by local designers to emulate art in the museum's collection. The Orlando dance band Bird Dog Bobby and the Honey Hounds entertains. 6:30 p.m. 255 Beach Drive NE. $75. Cocktail attire.

Sprout Festival on March 18 is a new Art in Bloom event in Straub Park with family-oriented displays, hands-on activities, child-friendly food and an art show. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Free.

Lifestyles in Bloom on March 20 is a self-guided sampling of displays and demonstrations at the museum that include ideas for home, garden, wardrobe and entertaining. $15 includes Tea in the Garden. 1-5 p.m.

Luncheon and Lecture on March 21 features William H. Vaughn, the landscape architect at Disney World who designs the EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival. Lunch is by Redwoods. 10:30 a.m. $45.

On March 23, a Selby Botanical Gardens Tour includes transportation by motor coach to Sarasota to the gardens, on 8.5 waterfront acres, a docent tour and lunch. Arrival back at the museum at 4:30 p.m. $45.

Art in Bloom ends with the annual Garden Tour on March 24 of local gardens, this year on Snell Isle. Self-guided from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. $15. Call 896-2667.

Looking ahead


SAPL BOOK FAIR: The Society for the Advancement of the Poynter Library kicks its annual book fair up a notch by combining it with the Florida Marine Research Institute Marine Quest. Marine Quest is a family day of crafts, exhibits and demonstrations at the waterfront institute on the campus of University of South Florida-St. Petersburg. The book fair has more than 30 categories of hardcover and paperback volumes, set up in Davis Hall on the USF campus. Marine Quest is 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Book sale is 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Free.

March 23

FLORIDA ORCHESTRA GUILD DESIGNER SHOWHOUSE: You may never be able to afford one of the soon-to-open Vinoy Place condominiums, but you can see, briefly, how the other minuscule percentage lives at this year's showhouse there. The three-story town home will feature rooms done up by local interior designers. The show opens with a black-tie-optional preview party with cocktail buffet and dancing, 6:30 p.m. $50. It continues through April 14, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Saturday, with lunch served. Sunday, noon to 4 p.m. with afternoon tea available. Admission, not including lunch or tea, is $10. Call 392-0509.

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