Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Aloha to Florida - Univeristy of Tampa

In my last post, I introduced you to the Henry B. Plant Hotel, a Victorian era winter resort in Tampa that now hosts a quaint museum (link).  The hotel is also home to the University of Tampa - my Alma Mater.

From UT's website (link),

Plant Hall, the main academic and administrative building for the University, already had an extraordinary history. Formerly the Tampa Bay Hotel, the building represented, and still remains, a symbol of the city and its history. Local historians credit its builder, railroad and shipping magnate Henry B. Plant, with the transformation of Tampa from a sleepy fishing village to what would become a vibrant city of the 21st century.

Built between 1888 and 1891, the hotel was designed to surpass all other grand winter resorts. At a cost of $3 million, the 511-room giant rose to a flamboyant height of five stories, surrounded by ornate Victorian gingerbread and topped by Moorish minarets, domes and cupolas.

The rooms that once hosted Teddy Roosevelt, the Queen of England, Stephen Crane and Babe Ruth (who signed his first baseball contract in the hotel’s grand dining room) are now classrooms, laboratories and administrative offices–the heart of The University of Tampa and a landscape for state-of-the-art student learning environments.

Speaking of Babe Ruth, this marker outside the Sykes School of Business recognizes his longest homer as a Boston Red Sox against the New York Yankees.

The Sykes College of Business fits into the historic atmosphere of the campus.

Inside, the College of Business recognizes the countries attending the University.

Perhaps I should back up and begin with our student guide.

Clearly, he enjoys campus life at UT!

During my time at UT, I enjoyed the Rathskeller in Plant Hall's basement.   

I also enjoyed the soccer games at the Pepin/Rood Stadium.  UT previously hosted collegiate football.  From Wikipedia (link),

The University of Tampa football team was founded in 1933 and remained for thirty-three seasons until 1974.  They officially joined Division 1 in 1971. On November 11, 1974, in front of a crowd of 21,564 fans, the University of Tampa played their final football game, a 35-10 win over Florida A&M University. The team finished with an all-time record of 201-160-12.

Notable alumni included Freddie Solomn (49s) and John Matuszak (Raiders).   It was said around campus that the university discontinued collegiate football to make way for professional football - the Tampa Bay Buccanneers.   Also from Wikipedia (link),

Their uniforms and "Bucco Bruce" winking pirate logo were designed by Tampa Tribune artist Lamar Sparkman, with colors drawn from the state's four major college teams: orange from the universities of Miami and Florida, and red from FSU and the University of Tampa. They were one of the few teams to wear white home uniforms, forcing opponents to wear their dark uniforms in Tampa's 90-degree fall heat.  

UT is the perfect setting for crew (rowing) with direct access to the Hillsborough River.

Notice the "graffiti" along the river - visiting crew teams left their mark!

Overlooking the river is Plant Park, home to the Sticks of Fire.  Some historians believe Tampa translates as "sticks of fire" in the Calusa language from the native tribe in the area.   It may account for the frequently lightning strikes in the summer (Tampa's hockey team is called the Lightning).

The Sticks of Fire match the historic domes over the Plant Hotel.   Below is Fletcher Lounge - orginally a dining facility for the hotel's rich patrons. 

Guests walked from the grand lobby to Fletcher lounge via an enclosed walk way (while servants scurried along the upper floor).

This is noteworthy as there is a discreet entrance to the servants' staircase next to Fletcher Lounge.  In my time, it was used by the students enrolled in math and science classes.   The former kitchen was the biology lab ... 

... and the university created offices for the math teachers inside the dome.

I spent many hours with the math teachers, trying to catch up (remember the Rathskeller?)

As we walked through Plant Hall, we noticed this sign for the Philosophy Department:

Do you have any noteworthy universities in your home town? One randomly selected commenter from this week's blogs wins a book choice from my convention stash.  Comments are open throguh Saturday, August 23, 10 pm in Baltimore.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, August 24, at SOS Aloha Book Blog,


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Imagine college students haning out in this lobby!


  1. I've got a couple here. FAU and Lynn University.

  2. Cooper Union, Columbia and a few more.

  3. Not here, great pics

  4. We have many in Connecticut. Yale University is one. It too is filled with history. University of Hartford and of course UCONN!

  5. None here, however, the city is hoping get them here, which would be really great for the economy.

  6. I live in a small town & we don't have a college here - the closest are about 20 minutes away - Drew University & Fairleigh Dickinson University (I drive by them fairly often).

  7. We have a ton of universitys/colleges here!