How a grand hotel became the University of Tampa

Pam Iorio, former two-term mayor of Tampa, and current Leader-in-Residence at the John H. Sykes College of Business at the University of Tampa, has been writing about the history of UT for the Tampa Tribune. Her most recent column covers how a hotel became a university. In August she explained how the Plant Hotel came to be owned by the city of Tampa.

Trivia: Pam Iorio’s mother once worked in the library at the University of Tampa! (Then known as the Merl Kelce Library.)

“Tampa Mayor Robert E. Lee Chancey appointed a special committee to determine the best use for the hotel. Spaulding was one of the appointees. There were plenty of suggestions: a home of a permanent exhibit of Florida products, a medical school, even a sanitarium. The idea that finally met with the approval of city officials and the University Board of Trustees was a 10-year lease to The University of Tampa.

“In August 1933, a battered pickup truck came to Hillsborough High School to pick up the few furnishings and records that would comprise the fledgling university. Depositing their meager possessions at the former hotel, the administration of the University of Tampa now had the formidable task of converting a huge, rundown hotel into a suitable venue for their students and faculty.”

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