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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. St. Pete College board of trustees grows to five members


    ST. PETERSBURG — As St. Petersburg College trustees prepare to interview candidates for SPC president, the board has quickly grown from three to five members.

    On Monday, Gov. Rick Scott re-appointed Bridgette Bello to the board of trustees, where she previously served from 2013 to 2015.

    Bello, 46, of Seminole is the president and first female publisher of the Tampa Bay Business Journal. Her appointment is subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate....

    Bridgette Bello
  2. Interview dates set for St. Pete College president search


    ST. PETERSBURG — Now that the pool of potential St. Petersburg College presidents has been narrowed to five, the college’s board of trustees will bring each finalist to campus for interviews.

    The board’s four members plan to make their final decision at a special meeting on June 9....

    St. Petersburg College
  3. Pinellas college notebook: USFSP celebrates Pulitzer winner, Eckerd presents its 'Human Library'


    USFsp honors Pulitzer-winning alum

    An alumnus of the journalism program at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg was named a Pulitzer Prize winner in Investigative Reporting this month. Eric Eyre, who got his master's degree in mass communication at USFSP in 1998, won journalism's top award for his work chronicling the opioid drug crisis and overdose deaths in West Virginia. His report in the Charleston Gazette-Mail, where he is a statehouse reporter, found that drug wholesalers pumped 780 million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills into the state in just six years, while more than 1,700 West Virginians overdosed and died. "It's really a testament to years of grinding it out as a beat reporter doing investigative projects on the side over the course of 25-plus years," Eyre said in a university news release. He thanked his USFSP professors for shaping his reporting. Department founder Mike Killenberg said Eyre's work has long been excellent. "When he applied to our program, I was very impressed by his interest in stories that impact ordinary people," Killenberg said. "I've been following his career, and I'm not surprised that he's reached the highest level of accomplishment for a journalist." Eyre, 51, is also a former St. Petersburg Times intern and an Ethics Fellow at the Poynter Institute, which owns the Tampa Bay Times....

  4. Hillsborough college notebook: USF hosts writer Jeffrey Toobin, UT holds human rights conference


    Analyst, writer Jeffrey Toobin to speak at USF

    To shed light on the secret workings of the U.S. Supreme Court and discuss how the Trump administration could shape its future, legal expert and longtime New Yorker writer Jeffrey Toobin will deliver a free, public lecture on April 27, hosted by the University of South Florida. Toobin, also the senior legal analyst for CNN, has covered some of the biggest legal battles in the modern era, including the nominations of four justices and the trials of Michael Jackson and George Zimmerman. A best-selling author and former assistant U.S. attorney, he will bring a deep knowledge of the field to his talk at the David A. Straz Center for the Performing Arts. Join him at 7:30 p.m. in Ferguson Hall. No tickets necessary. ...

  5. 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
  6. 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. ...

  7. 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....

    Outgoing St. Petersburg College president William Law, left, and SPC Board of Trustees member Deveron Gibbons confer during a meeting in 2014. Today, Gibbons is participating in the effort to replace Law, who announced recently that he is leaving his post. Gibbons said he supports an open search process, but with caution. "We have to be clean and be careful that we don't overstep." [LARA CERRI  |   Times]
  8. 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 triumphant return to the world of sugar and fast food.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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. ...

  12. 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
  13. 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
  14. 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
  15. 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....