Nov. 30, 2023
Their love blossomed in a newsroom. During the late 1970s, Joe Hice worked as a reporter and later as the business editor at the Tampa Times, where Sandy Caswell was an editorial news artist. They married in 1981 and both enjoyed long, successful careers in journalism, marketing and public relations — united by another passion every step of their shared journey: WUSF Public Media.
Sandy, a Miami native, frequently listened to the station while attending USF on a scholarship, graduating with a fine arts degree. Joe, born in Savannah, Georgia, and raised in Miami, majored in journalism and communications at the University of Florida and began tuning in regularly when he became a reporter for the Tampa Times.
He went on to work as a staff writer for Florida Trend business magazine, while Sandy eventually moved into public relations with Ringling College of Art and Design and the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center (now called the Straz Center). All the while, the flow of news and information from WUSF provided a constant soundtrack to the Hices’ lives.
“We both have been big fans of the station for about 50 years now,” says Joe, who collaborated on many WUSF projects during his time as USF’s chief marketing officer from 2017-2021. “I was so impressed with the work they did as well as the internships they offered to give talented students firsthand experience in journalism.”
That planted a seed, which has taken root as a gift from their trust to provide more internships at the station through the Sandra C. Hice and Joseph S. Hice Journalism Enhancement Fund.
“We thought, ‘Here’s a public broadcast station that means a lot to both of us,’ and we wanted to do something to help it continue to thrive,” Joe says.
The couple has made small gifts to WUSF since the 1980s, then monthly donations and some cornerstone level gifts several years ago. Their most recent gift was inspired by generous donors like alumni Les and Pam Muma.
“We’re passionate about USF, passionate about journalism and this is an opportunity to make a difference in something we care about deeply,” Joe says.
They reached out to the USF Foundation, speaking with WUSF’s Scott Nolan, senior director of development, and Marion Yongue, associate vice president of development. “We just said, ‘We’d like to do something — we’re not wealthy, but we want to make a meaningful gift,’” Joe recalls.
The Sandra C. Hice and Joseph S. Hice Journalism Enhancement Fund will give special preference to USF students, though neither attending USF nor majoring in journalism is required for an applicant to be considered.
“It could be a marketing student or even an art student — that’s what I was and it helped me greatly when I worked for the newspaper,” Sandy says. “In the different jobs I’ve had in my career, it was beneficial to have a journalism foundation — whether it was marketing or public relations. It gave me a better perspective into what newspapers need and allowed me to deal with journalists more effectively.”
Sandy’s career has been varied, indeed. After leaving the Straz Center in 1992, she worked as a public affairs coordinator on the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus; moved into public relations and marketing for Haven Hospice; was a system communications coordinator for BayCare Health Systems; took a sales and marketing administrative position with WellCare Health Plans; and stays busy these days with marketing consulting jobs and working as a freelance writer.
She’s also the No. 1 copy editor on Joe’s many writing and marketing endeavors. His career has been filled with numerous chapters as well. After leaving Florida Trend in 1982, he shifted into marketing and public relations — making an initial mark as vice president and co-founder of Roberts & Hice Communications, which later became the ChappellRoberts ad agency.
He's also served as vice president of what is now Hill+Knowlton Strategies, and director of communications for Wellcraft and Donzi Marine. He was director of marketing and communications with Sea-Doo Watercraft, then for the Harley-Davidson Motor Co.
He later worked as chief marketing officer at Segway LLC before being recruited by the University of Florida to serve as associate vice president of marketing and public relations. There, he oversaw the team behind the “The Gator Nation” campaign.
So began his path into education and nonprofit work. Joe went on to serve as chief communications officer and associate vice chancellor at North Carolina State University; vice president of public relations and marketing at Moffitt Cancer Center; senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Enterprise Florida; and, finally, USF.
Even in retirement, neither Joe nor Sandy are slowing down. Joe does frequent consulting work in marketing and communications in a wide array of fields. Of course, their lives also include the joys of family. Their two daughters are carrying on the family marketing and journalism tradition — Mary works in advertising; Laurie is on the faculty at Kennesaw State University teaching digital marketing and communications and has her own marketing company, where Sandy serves as director of public relations and senior editor.
Now, their children aren’t the only ones whose communications careers will benefit from the support of two masters of the craft: Joe and Sandy.