MANATEE -- Rebecca Gutherz, a married mother of three from Bayshore Gardens who is majoring in accounting at University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, had a few words for the 1,000 movers and shakers at Brunch on the Bay.
“Your presence here is more important than you know,” said Gutherz, student government president for the campus.
“I know the importance of having the financial support to make these dreams happen so that I can not only provide a better way of life for my family, but pave the way and be a strong, highly educated example for my children. Your support and assistance have made my dreams of getting a degree possible,” Gutherz said.
Gutherz’ comments were one of the highlights of Sunday’s 18th annual Brunch on the Bay at the Powel Crosley Estate on Sarasota Bay.
This year’s event produced $270,000 in gifts to help students like Gutherz, with a possible $100,000 state match.
“It’s amazing how many lives this event has touched since its beginnings,” said Brunch Chairman Rick Fawley.
To date, the Brunch has produced nearly $850,000 in scholarships for local USF students.
USF Sarasota-Manatee obtained accreditation apart from the Tampa campus recently, which will help officials more finely craft a curriculum which meets of the local community, said Vice Chancellor Arthur Guilford.
The Sarasota-Manatee campus has traditionally focused on college students in their junior and senior years, but is now beginning to add more courses for underclassmen.
The enrollment of sophomores at USF Sarasota-Manatee grew 79 percent in the past year, and the college plans to add freshmen classes in 2013, Guilford said.
USF Sarasota-Manatee now has 4,700 students attending class, Guilford said.
USF Sarasota-Manatee, along with New College of Florida and Ringling College of Art, will lead the charge in transforming their area of Tamiami Trail, he said.
“Yes, USF Sarasota-Manatee is your local comprehensive one-of-a-kind public university that is small enough to care, but large enough to lead,” Guilford said.
Judy Genshaft, president of USF, called Brunch on the Bay the event of the year, one that has an important focus and is held in a beautiful setting.
“There are few things within a university system that are more important to success that leadership and philanthropy of the community. Students, faculty and programs all depend on your support,” Genshaft said.
Some of the area’s finest restaurants provided the fine dining for Brunch attendees, or sat under a large white tent along side Sarasota Bay.
James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee editor, can be contacted at 941-745-7021.