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Claire McNeill, Times Staff Writer

Claire McNeill

Claire McNeill covers higher education for the Tampa Bay Times. She joined the paper in 2014 and covered general assignment news in Pasco and Pinellas counties.

She grew up in a one-square-mile town in South Jersey and graduated from the University of North Carolina, where she studied journalism and political science. She has worked for The Boston Globe and The Charlotte Observer. She lives in St. Petersburg.

Phone: (727) 893-8321


Twitter: @clairemcneill

  1. Could a union be in the cards for USF's part-time teachers?


    TAMPA -- Part-time faculty at the University of South Florida filed paperwork today to hold a union election, hoping to bargain for better wages, more stable contracts and health care benefits.

    “The time has come,” said Patty McCabe-Remmell, who teaches professional and technical writing at USF. “We are charged with the care and the molding of students’ minds, and I take this responsibility very seriously and totally professionally. It’s only fair that we be recognized for this.”...

    USF Tampa
  2. USF St. Petersburg historian Jim Schnur faces charges after child porn, bestiality images found


    ST. PETERSBURG — The longtime historian and librarian at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg faces charges of possessing child pornography after detectives found illegal images on his computer, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said.

    James Anthony Schnur, 51, was arrested at his home on 91st Street N in Seminole around 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, the Sheriff's Office said.

    Detectives began investigating in January after receiving a tip. The images depict child pornography and bestiality, they said. ...

  3. Discussion is discouraged as SPC searches for a new president


    CLEARWATER — Through silent tallies on a whiteboard, the list of hopefuls for the job of St. Petersburg College president has been narrowed to five.

    A room of onlookers sat quietly on Monday while members of the college's search committee drew check marks beside the candidates they saw fit to advance to the final round. In just 20 minutes, without discussion, the top five emerged....

    The Douglas L. Jamerson, Jr., Midtown Center of St. Petersburg College, opened in 2015, is considered a major accomplishment by outgoing SPC president William Law. A search committee has been working to replace him, but has run into controversy over how fully the candidates' backgrounds can be discussed. [SOPHIA NAHLI  ALLISON  |   TIMES]
  4. How I gave up added sugar for an entire month


    “Goodbye, mayo," I think, crumpling up my sandwich's tinfoil wrapper. "Goodbye, office candy," I say, inhaling a few Kit-Kats, more out of reflex than desire. After a softball game I bid adieu to the dive bar's unholy blue cheese dressing, figuring just about everything I love will now be wrested from me.

    Over postgame beers I talk with a teammate, a fellow sugar addict, in conspiratorial tones. My vices, I confess, are chocolate bars and drive-throughs, Wendy's ketchup and 11 p.m. brownies for one....

    My attempt at using strawberries to liven up my depressing muesli, Day 1.
  5. Author Gary Taubes says too much sugar can be really bad for you


    More than almost anything else about my preteen summers, I remember the candy. I had a ritual to fill those wide-open days: a bike ride to the library, then the One Stop Shop. I knew the store by heart, from the ice case to the fishing worms, but especially the shelves of sugar. At home, I would read on the porch in the heat, eating two packs of Sour Patch Kids bite by bite, sharply sour, then sickly sweet....

    For decades, journalist Gary Taubes has tracked sugar’s infiltration into our diets.
  6. Inside the metrics machine: USF uses big data to find, and help, overburdened students


    TAMPA — Paul Dosal left Hillsborough High School with an enviable GPA, seventh in a class of 700, destined for college success.

    "And I ran straight into the buzz saw of English comp 1," Dosal said. Each C chipped away at his conviction.

    "Paul is really struggling," his mother told a family friend. That man sat Dosal down in his church office and, in a life-altering 30 minutes, showed him how to write....

    USF president Judy Genshaft, from left, Civitas Learning founder Mark David Milliron, USF provost Ralph Wilcox and Paul Dosal, vice president for student affairs and student success, stand together March 21 during the Student Success Luncheon at the USF Marshall Center.
  7. Hillsborough college notebook: HCC opens its doors, USF professor honored for inventions, and more


    HCC invites prospective students to look around

    Hillsborough Community College will host open house events at each of its five campuses over the next month. Prospective students can check out academic options, learn about financial aid, admissions, veteran services and more. Faculty and staff will offer tours and answer questions. Each event runs from 5:30-7:30 p.m., and students are encouraged to RSVP at The first three events are Tuesday, April 4 at the Ybor City campus, 2112 N 15th St.; Wednesday, April 5 at the Brandon campus, 10414 E Columbus Drive; and Thursday, April 6 at the Plant City campus, 1206 North Park Road. ...

  8. Pinellas college notebook: USFSP welcomes new fundraising chief, SPC hosts IT career night


    Veteran fundraiser joins USFSP

    The University of South Florida St. Petersburg is welcoming a new leader in philanthropy and alumni relations as Deborah Read becomes its new vice chancellor for advancement. She will develop and implement a strategic agenda to boost USFSP fundraising. Read comes from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, where she served as vice president for university advancement and CEO of the Cal Poly Foundation. She also has worked at universities in Ohio, New York and Kentucky, designing and leading fundraising campaigns of up to $500 million. "Deborah brings extensive experience to her role, having served as a major gifts officer for nearly 20 years at public and private research universities, regional universities, and a private liberal arts college," Regional Chancellor Sophia Wisniewska said in a statement. "I look forward to working closely with her as we continue to develop our own culture of philanthropy."...

    Katherine E. Cole
  9. USF students shell out $70,000 to bring Oscar-winner Viola Davis to campus


    TAMPA -- Six minutes was all it took for University of South Florida staffers to realize they were going to need a bigger building.

    They had announced that Academy Award-winner Viola Davis would deliver a free lecture on campus on April 4, during its annual USF Week. As soon as a link for tickets went live, students snapped them up....

    Viola Davis
  10. New education dean at USFSP has deep roots in St. Petersburg


    A new dean of the College of Education will join the University of South Florida St. Petersburg this summer, settling in a city her granduncle helped integrate decades ago.

    Allyson Leggett Watson was appointed this week by Regional Chancellor Sophia Wisniewska to lead the college’s faculty. She comes to USFSP from Northeastern State University in Oklahoma, with a diverse student body of more than 9,000 on three campuses....

    Allyson Watson
  11. Hillsborough college notebook: Vanderbilt speaker, business of sports, TEDx talk and more


    Medicine, murder in 17th Century

    Vanderbilt professor Holly Tucker talks medicine and murder in the Scientific Revolution, presented by the USF Humanities Institute. Tucker holds appointments in French and Italian as well as in Biomedical Ethics and Society. She'll explore this tumultuous part of the 17th century history in a talk based on her book, Blood Work, in room 206 of C.W. Bill Young Hall at 6 p.m....

  12. Wary about science under Trump, USF graduate students seek support


    TAMPA — Anxious about an uncertain future for research under the Trump administration, University of South Florida graduate students have challenged USF to defend science.

    President Donald Trump’s proposed budget cuts could seriously hamper funding for student researchers, PhD candidate Erin Sauer said at a panel discussion at USF on Monday. She spoke for graduate students in requesting an official statement from USF that would highlight the importance of science, stand up for USF researchers studying climate change and “specifically comment on the serious consequences of science denial and science funding cuts.”...

  13. Too few conservatives teach at universities, USFSP professor emeritus writes


    A conservative University of South Florida professor doubts he would have been hired at USF had officials known his ideological leanings.

    “I believe I was hired because I had spent the prior year as a National Teaching Fellow at Florida A & M University,” USF St. Petersburg professor emeritus Darryl Paulson wrote in an op-ed published Friday. “Anyone who taught at a historically black university had to be a liberal.”...

    Dr. Darryl Paulson
  14. St. Petersburg officials again hear public suggestions for sewer fixes

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — Some people came to listen, others to offer ideas, and a few simply to vent. In all, more than 60 people spent their Wednesday evening engaging with St. Petersburg officials as the city begins overhauling its overburdened sewage system.

    The night's focus was a 12-page consent order drafted by the state, essentially a roadmap to fixing the city's aging system in the wake of a prolonged crisis. Fulfilling the state's requests, such as increasing wastewater plant capacity, would help St. Petersburg avoid up to $810,000 in penalties. ...

    St. Petersburg's Albert Whitted Reclamation Facility, bottom, which was closed by city officials in April 2015. That decision has played a key role in the city's sewage crisis and was again a topic of conversation at a meeting this week. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  15. USF Sarasota-Manatee leader resigns, citing family issues


    The regional chancellor of the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee announced her immediate resignation last week, owing to her “current family situation.”

    Sandra Stone plans to return to campus as a faculty member in the next academic year. Meanwhile, USF System officials will start a national search for her replacement.

    The Bradenton Herald reported that Stone’s mother has been sick. Her resignation also comes amid six years of lackluster fundraising at USFSM, a subject of concern for USF System trustees. University officials did not provide further details about her decision....

    Dr. Sandra Stone