Campus Attractions at Eckerd College
By Florence Beth Snyder
A Presbyterian was in the White House in 1958 when the Florida Synod of the Presbyterian Church, USA, voted to establish a liberal arts school to be known as Florida Presbyterian College in St. Petersburg.
Months later, college founders met with fellow Presbyterian and President of the United States Dwight D. Eisenhower to enroll the leader of the free world as the first "charter alumnus.”
That set the student recruitment bar pretty high, but the school proved itself up to the challenge. In the years since Eisenhower lent his enormous prestige, supporters such as drug store magnate Jack Eckerd, in whose honor the college was rechristened in 1972, devoted their time and money to recruiting an accomplished faculty singularly focused on student success.
It wasn’t long before Eckerd College “... had joined the ranks of the elite — the top 50 in the production of graduates who go on to get doctorates in the sciences and in the humanities,” according to “Colleges That Change Lives,” an influential guidebook founded by education writer Loren Pope.
Eckerd College is small by design. With an undergraduate enrollment of less than 2,000, professors have plenty of time to provide personalized guidance, and students have plenty of room to spread out to think, write, and enjoy the view.
Eckerd’s 188-acre campus bumps up on Boca Ciega Bay. Take a walk around the campus and you’ll understand in an instant why students are encouraged to “Think Outside.” Lifetime friendships are forged at “South Beach,” Eckerd’s football field-sized white sand oasis where students meet for barbecues and brainstorming.
Lucky dogs matriculate with their masters at Eckerd. Cats and chinchillas, gerbils and guinea pigs are equally welcome in the college’s pet-friendly dorms. Eckerd is community friendly, too. Keep an eye on the campus calendar, because most cultural events are open to the public at low or no charge.
The Bruchenal Lecture Series challenges audiences with provocatively titled topics such as “Thinking Again By Any Means Necessary” and “Belief without Borders: Inside the Minds of the Spiritual But Not Religious.”
The Dan and Mary Miller Auditorium is home to Eckerd’s International Cinema Series and offers a fresh look at influential screen classics along with critically acclaimed works making the rounds of current film festivals.
The Miller is also the home of Another Man's Trash, Eckerd’s popular improvisational comedy troupe. Trash is one of a handful of college improv players that have been invited to perform in Chicago, the city viewed by many comedians as the improv capital of the world. Come see why, but come early, because seats fill up fast with Eckerd students who can’t get enough of the laughs and surprises the Trash-men and women always provide.
There’s always something new on exhibit at the Cobb Gallery. Student and alumni artworks are featured, along with works from the college’s permanent collection, and traveling exhibitions of works from nationally and internationally known artists.
Writers in Paradise is a weeklong crash course in literary genius for Eckerd students. Some of the world’s best writers offer workshops, roundtables and panel discussions to aspiring young writers at Eckerd’s annual College Writers’ Conference. After dinner, the guest lecturers “relax” with an Evening Reading Series, free and open to the public.
When you go…
4200 54th Ave S
St. Petersburg, Fla., 33711