You might think that when a USF alumnus returns to campus after an extended absence, the first thing they would notice would be all the new buildings, mature landscaping, elegant signage, and traffic improvements. But for Mitchell Katine, it was the familiar, unchanged elements that repeatedly drew his attention. “I was focused on the memories and the feelings of being back on campus – remembering my time as a student at USF. For example, when I was walking to the Beta dorms, I saw the exact door I used to see so often while standing in line for the cafeteria. I used to hang out with friends at the quad over there. Even the University Center (now the Marshall Student Center) and it’s Wednesday market are still there, though they have certainly grown.”
Mitchell Katine graduated from USF in 1982 and moved to Texas for law school. After an initial career in real estate law, he found himself representing John Lawrence and Tyron Garner along the route to their eventual victory in the United States Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas. He has since built a prestigious career as a human rights attorney, fighting for some of society’s most marginalized citizens. On October 30th, he returned to USF to speak on legal gains for the LGBT community at the USF Libraries’ 2014 signature event for its growing LGBT Initiative. It was immediately apparent USF has come a long way from the commuter school that met essential academic needs in 1982. Of USF’s focus on diversity, sustainability, and innovation, Mr. Katine says, “I would consider USF back then, very much a university in development. Now, it’s a mature, successful, sought-after destination, with progressive achievements like the Library’s work in LGBT history.”
While an undergrad, Katine was involved in seemingly everything on campus: student government and organizations, his job in the University Center — he was also one of the founding USF Ambassadors. Delighted to see how the program has flourished, he got to meet with some of the current USF Ambassadors at last week’s event.
His undergraduate-era job at the University Center brought Mitchell Katine together with two people who are still dear friends and who attended October’s USF Libraries event – Sandi and Mike Conway. Sandi fondly recalls her time working with Mitchell. “He was just one of those incredibly impressive young whipper-snappers. He got things done, and was incredibly smart. Fun, too. I shouldn’t tell you this, but during our breaks, we used to practice our disco moves!”
Mr. Katine has fond memories of the USF Tampa Library and is a donor to the USF Libraries LGBT Initiative. Of the library’s transformation to what it is today, he says, “The USF Library used to be a place where you came, did your work, and went back to your dorm or went home. Now, it’s this welcoming, comfortable place that is a hub of student life.” One of his donations, a collection of framed and signed documents relating to the Lawrence v. Texas US Supreme Court victory, will even be on display in the Special Collections department on the library’s fourth floor.
Get involved and make your own contribution to the USF Tampa Library’s groundbreaking initiatives. Contact the USF Libraries Development office here or by calling (813) 974-4433.