USF Sarasota-Manatee celebrates new chancellor with great food, fun

MANATEE -- Sunday's 21st Annual Brunch on the Bay, which attracted a crowd of 1,000 to dine under tents on a breezy day with sparking blue skies on the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee campus, may go down in history as one of the most notable.

It marked the actual first day of work by new USF Sarasota-Manatee Regional Chancellor Sandra Stone who has replaced Arthur Guilford.

It announced an anonymous matching gift for the first $40,000 in donations made to Clyde G. Nixon International Business Endowment, which has allowed a dozen USF Sarasota-Manatee students, including four this past summer, to travel worldwide to study since 2010. Nixon was the chairman of Sun Hydraulics Corporation in Manatee County.

It continued the tradition of raising funds for general scholarships, with more than $1 million raised over two decades for the more than 1,000 students, according to USF officials.

And, finally, it proved that Manatee and Sarasota counties are home to many creative chefs, including 22 on Sunday who dreamed up amazing things to stimulate the brunch time taste buds of foodies, whose ticket prices fund the scholarships.

For example, Chef/Owner Rich Knowles of enRich Bistro, 5629 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton, just about ran out of his Brussels Sprouts in Chili Papaya sauce, which came with candied bacon and a dessert of Nutella Panna Cotta sprinkled with crushed hazelnuts and Hawaiian red sea salt.

"The reaction was amazing," Knowles said.

Food fans were also going

after the fried chicken and waffles of Chef Greg Campbell of downtown Bradenton's Pier 22, about which Sarasota's Sam Samelson exclaimed, "Sweet. Unique. Delicious. Wonderful."

"I didn't invent it. The South did. But who wouldn't love fried chicken and waffles that include maple syrup, honey, powdered sugar and my secret recipe for the chicken?" Campbell declared.

The dish is offered as an hors d'oeuvres at the restaurant, Campbell said.

USF family finds Stone charismatic

Upon meeting, Stone, the new boss of USF's Sarasota-Manatee's campus, Dennis Stover, a USF vice chancellor, called her, "a delightful new leader."

Stone, who wore a green dress and tan sweater Sunday, never stopped smiling.

"Amazing food, amazing people, amazing place," Stone said. "Everyone was welcoming to me. I couldn't ask for a better place to land."

Stone and her husband, Tony, live at Bel Mare Condominiums in Palmetto.

"We love Riverwalk and being on the Manatee River," Stone said.

Stone's dad was a farmer in Tennessee. But, in 1965, the family moved to Atlanta where her dad drove a bus.

It was in Atlanta where Stone eventually met her husband, Tony, a psychologist for the Atlanta City Police Department. Stone was doing research on drug enforcement which took her into the narcotics unit of the Atlanta City Police Department.

Stone's research and teaching interests are still in the areas of juvenile delinquency and justice, gangs, family violence and women in the criminal justice system, she said.

Stone comes to USF from Dalton State College in Georgia where she was vice president for academic affairs.

Nixon loved other cultures

Nixon, who left a scholarship for USF students as part of his legacy, frequently went to Asia and India to sell his custom hydraulic valves, which are used all around the world for hydraulic fork lifts, hospital beds and anything that needs fluid power, said his widow, Joan Nixon, who supports the Endowment and has become friends with the Nixon Scholars.

"Clyde loved other cultures and definitely believed in international education for American students," she said.

Perhaps USF Sarasota Manatee hopes a bit of Clyde Nixon's character is finding its way to the students.

"Clyde was a listener," Nixon said. "He was a gentleman. He was very broad minded. He treated people with respect. He had a great sense of humor. The people who worked with him also mentioned grace. He had grace."

USF Sarasota-Manatee business student Alex Benishek of Ellenton, who is one of the 12 "Clyde Nixon Scholars," says he wouldn't mind one day being in politics.

"Alex is well honed for conversation," said a smiling Robert Anderson, Dean of the College of Business at USF Sarasota-Manatee. "I have no doubt he could be or will be a politician."

If Benishek does one day become Florida's governor or a U.S. president, he might say his visit to eight major cities in Japan over two weeks during the summer of 2014 helped form his global outlook.

"It was amazing," Benishek said Sunday. "I thank the Nixon family for it."

Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or contact him via Twitter@RichardDymond.