Spotlight: LOYAL SUPPORTER Elizabeth Lindsay

Some 1,100 miles separate Elizabeth “Liz” Lindsay’s home along Sarasota’s Gulfview Drive from her tiny hometown of Derby, Conn. From a practical standpoint, the two places are worlds apart.

Derby lies at the confluence of the Housatonic and Naugatuck rivers and was built largely on the backs of blue-collar residents who worked in the brass and metal industries. Sarasota, where Lindsay built an idyllic life for herself and her family, is best known for its beautiful beaches and for the explosive growth of its banking, insurance and tourism industries. 

While she is now deeply-rooted in Southwest Florida, Lindsay’s life has followed a fascinating path. A self-described “faculty kid” whose father was an engineering professor at Purdue University, Lindsay began her studies at Purdue in the same field. After 2½ years, she transferred to Thomas Edison University in Trenton, N.J., and earned a bachelor’s degree in construction. She later returned to school as a non-traditional student who, at the same time, was developing single-family homes in the region. She joined the first class of graduates ever produced by the University of South Florida’s Executive MBA program, and that’s when her relationship with the USF System really began. 

“When you find a good place to live, you try to be a part of the community and support it in any way you can.”

 Strong family ties to Sarasota-Manatee factored into her decision to settle in the area. When Manatee Community College (now State College of Florida) was founded, Lindsay’s stepmother became the school’s second employee. And her move to the area in 1948 was inspired by the fact that her father-in-law and husband owned the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. 

 Not long after she arrived, she became involved in the community, a commitment that has extended across the decades. She served as Chair of the Florida Board of Regents (now the Florida Board of Governors) after being appointed by former Florida Governor Lawton Chiles. She also served USF as a member of the Muma College of Business Advisory Board and as a Member of the USF Sarasota-Manatee Campus Board. 

The full list of volunteer organizations Lindsay has served over the years is extensive, but she believes her most important and meaningful work has impacted the lives of those closest to her adopted home. 

“I am most proud of being an honorable person, having consideration for others and being a part of my community in any way I can,” Lindsay said. 

Lindsay chooses to support USF Sarasota-Manatee and higher education in general because doing so “keeps you interested in young people and how they think. When you find a good place to live, you try to be a part of the community and support it in any way you can.” 

As one of the university’s largest benefactors, her guiding values of philanthropic investment in young people has contributed to an environment in which USFSM students can expand their minds, gain perspective and grow personally and professionally to become responsible, valuable members of their communities. 

When asked who has most influenced her, she responded: “A lot of people; I’ve been living for a long time.” 

The USFSM community, and members of the Sarasota-Manatee region, certainly are thankful for Lindsay’s lifetime of service and generosity. 

photo of Elizabeth Lindsay
Elizabeth Lindsay

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