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USF Libraries Exhibits

The University Center, Library, and Bomb Shelters


Construction was completed on the University Center in September 1960. The facility’s main purpose was to serve as a student union, but it was also home to classrooms and offices. Morrison’s Cafeteria serviced the campus’s sole dining hall, located in the UC. Before the first residence halls appeared on campus in September 1961, the fourth floor of the University Center served as home to forty-five women. The UC also served as the bookstore and campus arcade; it even had a jukebox. Many small concerts, parties and protests were held at the University Center. In 1979, members of the Seminole Indian tribe gave a demonstration of alligator wrestling outside the UC in celebration of Indian Happy Day (Feb. 2). In 1988, a Student Government-sponsored computer lab was opened. The following year, renovations started on the UC. The new facility boasted more restaurants, more meeting places, a larger arcade, and even a USF Credit Union location. In 1994, the University Center was renamed the Marshall Center after the former UC director and student advocate who worked at USF for 34 years. In February of that year, new places to eat opened in the Marshall center, such as Taco Bell. The Marshall Center underwent a new round of renovation and expansion and opened in August of 2008 as the Phyllis P. Marshall Student Center with even more dining and meeting space. The MSC now offers two floors of SG computer labs and the Student Life Tower that is home to Student Government, the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, the Center for Student Involvement, and the Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement.  Today, the Marshall Student Center is much more than a typical student union, where many students spend the majority of their time.


All of the protests and concerts that were held at the University Center were actually held outside on what is known as Crescent Hill. Protesting is a large part of USF’s history and most of those demonstrations were non-violent protests against war. Crescent Hill provided student-activists with a podium from which they could be heard. The grassy hill was once covered with beautiful Magnolia trees and students were constantly connecting with new and old friends. It wasn’t uncommon to find students playing guitar, listening to rock-and-roll, or even sun-bathing on Crescent Hill. Today, the only remaining portion of Crescent Hill is located between the Bull’s fountain and the Bookstore.


President John Allen and the first associates started collecting books for the library long before there was a planned library, mainly because President Allen considered a library to be the heart of any university. The library was temporarily located in the University Center ballroom until a five-story library opened up in 1961; but with the USF population booming, a new, bigger library was soon in high-demand. In 1975, a seven-story building opened up and was able to hold 1 million volumes compared to the previous library, whose capacity was 75% smaller.


The Cuban Missile Crisis seemed to threaten Tampa and USF. The library, now the Student Services Building, was deemed the “civil defense center” and in June of 1963, USF announced the creation of fallout shelters beneath the Chemistry building, the University Center, the Library, Alpha Hall, and the Teaching Auditorium building. Together those shelters could hold up to 4,000 people.  The shelters were meant to help students, staff, and faculty in the event of a nuclear attack.  Each was stocked with food, medical supplies, and had a hand-operated well.

The University Center, Library, and Bomb Shelters