Center Information > History of the MSC


The Union Movement

Dating back to the 19th century, the earliest college unions were student debating societies in English universities. From their original primary concentration on debate and discussion and on independence of student thought and action, these unions gradually evolved into large and comprehensive clubs geared to the dining, meeting, social, and recreational needs of students. This emerging concept began influencing American colleges toward the end of the 1800's, leading to the nation's first student union building at the University of Pennsylvania in 1896.


The growth rate of the college union movement, moderate but steady during the succeeding fifty years, accelerated dramatically in the 1950's and 1960's, with the result that student union buildings are now common to most colleges and universities in this country.


The Phyllis P. Marshall Center (the original student union)

The Marshall Center (originally called the University Center) was built in 1959 and opened in 1960. The University Center was one of the first five buildings that comprised the University of South Florida campus when the campus opened in 1960.


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The early University Center contained the first women's residence hall (located on the fourth floor), academic and office areas of the College of Fine Arts, faculty offices with a typing station, cafeteria, post office with student mailboxes, bookstore, television room, game room and information desk. Classes were held in the basement and first floor until the first classroom buildings were completed.


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Major renovations began in December 1988. Included in the renovation was the construction of the Special Events Center. Renovation was completed in February 1990.


The building was renamed the Phyllis P. Marshall Center and formally dedicated March 3, 1994. In Spring, 1997, Exterior Renovations to the MLK Plaza were complete, including an outdoor patio for the Marshall Student Center.


Who is Phyllis P. Marshall?

Phyllis P. Marshall served as director from August 1976 to her retirement in June 1994. After years of student lobbying, on March 3, 1994, the University Center was renamed the Phyllis P. Marshall Center in her honor. The administrators of the building felt it was important to retain her name on the new facility, the Marshall Student Center.


The Marshall Student Center

Over the last 46 years USF has grown significantly and was in need of a new student union to support the substantial developments USF has undergone. Students in 2003 realized this and supported a fee increase to finance and endorse a plan to build our 230,000 square foot new union. For more information on the building design features, visit the Marshall Student Center 8 part series Website.