Published: Jun 18, 2007
By Robin Roger
If walls could talk, Plant Hall would have plenty to say. Instead, its elevator is spilling the beans.
first elevator in Florida recently served as a sort of confessional for
the Elevator Diaries, which captured on film the stories of alumni,
faculty and staff of The University of Tampa. Interview subjects
recounted their favorite memories in front of a video camera during the
closing party for the University’s 75th anniversary.
Pennington and Susan Crawley, consultants for the University’s Office of
Development and University Relations, came up with the concept when
brainstorming ideas for celebrating UT’s 75th. The women asked Dana
Plays, associate professor of communication, to put together an oral
They needed a quiet space to work, and someone suggested the elevator.
“Everyone felt safe and contained in there,” Plays said. “I was pleasantly surprised by how freely the stories flowed.”
interview subjects talked for 10 minutes each about how UT has changed
through the years. The football team came up often, as did the
transition to a two-college model.
Dana Professor of Economics,
Dr. Michael Truscott, recalled working in the Division of Economics and
Business in the ’70s, before it became the Sykes College of Business.
Then there were only 12 faculty members, he said, three of whom had a
Ph.D. Each professor taught five classes at a time.
sizes were very large, and teaching loads were heavy, but we had a good
esprit de corps,” Truscott said. “It was a collegial atmosphere.”
the years, the quality of the faculty upgraded dramatically, he said,
and today there are more than 50 faculty members in COB, most with
Truscott also remembered how the minarets were painted gold to celebrate the 50th anniversary.
wasn’t a very good paint job, and it started peeling six months into
it,” he said. “It started looking pretty dastardly. Finally, they took
the gold paint off and repainted them silver.”
Joan Jones ’59
has fond memories of living in Plant Hall as a student. Now, she
volunteers in the H.B. Plant Museum and is a member of the Chiselers,
the Friends of Plant Park and the Minaret Society. She said she can
still find her old room by counting doors on the third floor.
a professor’s office, her room had a fireplace, walk-in closets, a
lavatory and a sink, plus antique wicker furniture original to the
“I have really good memories, and it’s so nice to see
that the building is so well kept,” she said. “I dearly love the whole
building and the people there and the people in the museum.”
talking in front of a video camera can be intimidating to some, Plays
said it also catches things that cannot be communicated through the
written word or portraiture.
“Video is such a perfect medium for
capturing these stories,” said Plays, whose previous work includes
historical biographies, including a film Love Stories My Grandmother
Tells, and a work in progress, The Story of Ottilie Moore. “You can hear
and see the person and find out some of the things you couldn't
Plays said she hopes to expand the project into a
more traditional documentary. Her students, Justin Poirier and Lamar
Edwards, helped with the editing of the film. It will be distributed to
participants after editing, and placed on reserve in the Macdonald-Kelce
Library on campus.
Featured in the film are President Ronald L.
Vaughn, former President Dick Cheshire and his wife Bobbie, football
star and former NFL player Freddie Solomon, Gov. Bob Martinez ’57 and
Ernest Segundo ’56.
“It’s not like it has to have an ending place,” Plays said. “We could make volumes. We could play it at the 100th anniversary.”