Date ArticleType
4/20/2020 Member News

$50,000 Gift from Kate Tiedemann and Ellen Cotton to Help USF St. Petersburg Campus Students Impacted by Coronavirus

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (April 20, 2020) - The University of South Florida today announced a gift of $50,000 from longtime supporters Kate Tiedemann and Ellen Cotton to provide emergency financial support to students on the USF St. Petersburg campus facing hardships due to the coronavirus epidemic. 

The gift, made in response to the USF United Support Fund effort, will be administered through the Stay AFLOAT fund, which was created by the USF Foundation to help students with a short-term need that may prevent them from continuing their education without assistance. The COVID-19 pandemic created new challenges for many students, including lost jobs and decreased financial support.


“We are so grateful to Kate Tiedemann and Ellen Cotton for their ongoing support of our students,” said Martin Tadlock, USF St. Petersburg campus regional chancellor. “In the midst of a global pandemic, they continue to be kind, compassionate and dedicated to helping our future leaders develop the knowledge and skills needed to improve our communities while completing their degrees.”


Tiedemann, a self-made entrepreneur, is the largest donor in USF St. Petersburg’s history. Her $10 million gift in 2014 gave the Kate Tiedemann College of Business its name. She and Cotton, her spouse and a former small business owner, have contributed more than $15 million to the university.


“An education has the power to change a person’s life,” said Tiedemann. “Ellen and I want to do everything we can to help these students remain in school and complete their degrees, despite the challenging and uncertain circumstances they are currently facing.”


Stay AFLOAT scholarships are open to full or part-time students at all academic levels and all majors on the St. Petersburg campus. Those interested in supporting the fund can make a monetary gift through the USF Foundation’s website. Students can apply for funds through the Office of Financial Aid.


“We are so appreciative of Kate and Ellen for making this gift that will benefit students faced with undue financial hardship. This is a difficult time for many, and their support goes a long way in helping students continue their education,” Interim USF Foundation CEO Noreen Segrest said.


For those who wish to contribute in a non-monetary way, USF continues to accept non-perishable food items and toiletries to supplement student food pantries on the Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee campuses.


The University of South Florida

The University of South Florida is a high-impact global research university dedicated to student success. Over the past 10 years, no other public university in the country has risen faster in U.S. News and World Report’s national university rankings than USF. Serving more than 50,000 students on campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee, USF is designated as a Preeminent State Research University by the Florida Board of Governors, placing it in the most elite category among the state’s 12 public universities. USF has earned widespread national recognition for its success graduating under-represented minority and limited-income students at rates equal to or higher than white and higher income students. USF is a member of the American Athletic Conference. Learn more at