The University of Tampa celebrates 75 years to the minute on Thursday, Oct.
5, at 4 p.m. The date and time match the date and time of UT’s first class in
The event commemorates the founding of Tampa Bay’s first university and its
subsequent 75 years of academic excellence. It also celebrates the history of
Plant Hall, transformed in 1933 from a 19th-century luxury hotel into a
university’s main building that became a registered national historic landmark
and the symbol of a region.
Guests of honor include Dr. Frederic Spaulding, a retired Connecticut dentist
who is son of UT’s founder and first president by the same name; his son David,
who has flown in from Hawaii and will play his grandfather in an historical
re-enactment; and Nathalie Gaylord Tomczak, daughter of Anne Cary, the first
student to register for classes at UT in 1931.
Other special guests include Mrs. Estelle Delo, widow of the late UT
president Dr. David Delo; former president Bruce and Mrs. Ada Jean Samson; and
former UT football great and NFL Super Bowl champion Freddie Solomon.
As guests arrive, they will be treated to a performance by the Hillsborough
High School Big Red Band and Dancerettes, under the direction of Kim Meeder and
drum majors Erin Monahan and Michael Newman, beginning at 3:40 p.m.
Following the playing of the national anthem with UT’s ROTC Color Guard, the
ringing of a school bell by Hillsborough High principal Dr. William Orr will
begin the celebration at 4 p.m. sharp. Dr. Frederic Spaulding was principal of
Hillsborough High when he founded Tampa Junior College (UT).
Actors in period costumes will play key figures in UT’s history from its
beginning to the present. Portrayals will include first UT president Dr.
Frederic Spaulding orchestrating the move from Hillsborough High to the former
Tampa Bay Hotel in 1933, replete with a 1928 Model A Ford roadster pickup
ROTC cadets will salute WW II veterans who are UT alumni. Bob Martinez ’57,
former governor of Florida, former mayor of Tampa and UT trustee emeritus, will
speak, as will Tampa mayor Pam Iorio and UT president Ron Vaughn. Martinez is
honorary chair of the 75th anniversary. Numerous dignitaries from UT’s history
will be honored, as will Spartan sports heroes.
UT government and world affairs professor Dr. Robert Kerstein, who also is
the official Hillsborough County historian, will provide a political, social and
economic backdrop of Tampa decade-by-decade from the early ’30s, while history
professor Dr. Terry Parssinen will detail highlight events in University
All this and more will take place in one hour. Guests then will be invited to
a reception in one of Tampa’s most beautiful rooms, the Fletcher Lounge in Plant
Hall. Students will be invited to the Vaughn Center Courtyard for a birthday
bash at 6 p.m.
Parking will be at a premium, and University Drive will be closed at 3:30
p.m. Early arrival is suggested, and guests are encouraged to park in the Thomas
Garage at N. Boulevard and N. B Street or the West Garage on N. Boulevard south
of Cass Street.