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Hooper: Celebrating the tangible and intangible benefits of higher education – Tampa Bay Times


Educators never stop sharing lessons, even long after they have exited the classroom and settled into retirement.

Their wisdom flows from a source of love and envelops their recipients.

So it is with former University of South Florida administrators John and Juel Smith. I’ve been fortunate enough to spend time in their good graces, but I’m far from the only one. You could fill a ballroom with those they have touched with their kindness.

The United Negro College Fund did just that last week, honoring the Smiths as its 2019 Champions of Education.

The luncheon, featuring broadcaster Charlayne Hunter-Gault as the keynote, celebrated higher education’s tangible benefits and its intangible spirit of uplift.

The honorees also included Pastor Bartholomew Banks, WFLA anchor Rod Carter, pioneering broadcaster Dayle Greene, former Tampa City Councilwoman Gwen Miller, former USF vice president Harold Nixon, attorney Carolyn House Stewart and St. Petersburg College president Tonjua Williams.

All the honorees, including the Smiths, entered college with a quest for knowledge, and left with a desire to serve. That factor is too often overlooked in assessing the value of a degree. …

I’m proud to be part of an esteemed panel convening at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at the Ruskin Firehouse Cultural Center, 101 First Ave. NE. The discussion, which also will include WFLA consumer reporter Shannon Behnken, PolitiFact managing editor Katie Sanders and USF senior instructor Wayne Garcia, will explore the critical role the industry plays in defending our democracy. Veteran columnist Pamela Varkony will moderate, and as in previous visits to the center, I know we’ll draw a thoughtful, educated crowd.

Journalism, indeed, does matter.

That’s all I’m saying.