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Months of efforts to get students enrolled this fall at St. Petersburg College have paid off, as enrollment for the term is up 2.2 percent over Fall 2013. As of Monday, the first day of fall classes, 32,350 students were enrolled in 276,620 semester hours at SPC.

“We’re in good shape and I’m very glad to present these numbers because it’s been a few years since I’ve been able to report enrollment gains,” Patrick Rinard, Associate Vice President for Enrollment Services, told SPC’s Board of Trustees on Tuesday. “A number of our sister institutions across the state are reporting enrollment declines” the first day of classes.

At SPC, First-Time-In-College student enrollment was up 8.8 percent, with even stronger gains among minority FTIC students. Enrollment among FTIC African-American students was up 19.7 percent while FTIC Hispanic student enrollment was up 18.3 percent.

Bachelor’s degree programs saw a 6.7 percent increase in students, continuing a trend of several years. Students seeking a bachelor’s degree now make up 12.7 percent of overall enrollment at SPC, up from 9.4 percent in Fall 2009. The top bachelor’s degree programs at SPC by enrollment and student hours are nursing, business administration and education.

“We’re really proud of the data,” said Tonjua Williams, Senior Vice President for Student Services. “This would not have happened without changing the way we did business. We had to undo some of our processes and remove some obstacles to enrolling.”

“As an institution, it’s easy to give yourself kudos, but it’s much harder to look at yourself and say maybe we need to change some processes,” said BOT member Lauralee Westine. “This came from all of you and we are thankful.”

Rather than attend a required orientation and get a student ID, new students at SPC now see an advisor when they register for classes to make sure they are on track. Previously, students were also required to take a career assessment, apply for financial aid, activate their SPC OneCard and get their textbooks before they could register.

Other strategies implemented by college staff to increase enrollment included:

  • Enhanced marketing and publications, particularly on social media
  • Stronger student communications that are more personal and timely
  • A weekly Fall 2014 enrollment webinar among staff so enrollment efforts could be better coordinated and communicated

St. Petersburg College is partnering with Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority to provide free bus rides for SPC’s 45,000 students and 3,900 employees over the next year. The agreement, which was effective as classes began this week, will cost the college $75,000 this year, through student activity fees.

“I want to thank the board for looking out for the best interests of the students,” said Seminole Campus Student Government Association President Jonathan Jacques in a video message to SPC’s Board of Trustees Tuesday. “This addresses a concern students have had for years.”

In the past, bus service to the Seminole Campus was intermittent during the day and non-existent on evenings and weekends, making class attendance difficult for many students. Route 58, which serves the campus, now runs more frequently “so students can attend Seminole Campus events and classes at night,” Jacques said.

The Universal Pass, or UPASS, provides unlimited bus service for SPC students, who can ride free any time on all routes, including regular and express routes, shuttles and trolleys by using their student ID. All 3,898 college employees, full and part-time, faculty and staff also can ride any bus service for free by showing their ID.

SPC and PSTA will coordinate program promotion. PSTA will capture information on ridership, which set a record in June, as riders boarded PSTA vehicles nearly 1.2 million times, up 4.4% from June 2013. This continues a strong upward ridership trend for PSTA, which had a record year in 2013 with 14,459,180 riders.

About SPC: St. Petersburg College was Florida’s first two-year college (founded in 1927) as well as the state’s first community college to offer bachelor’s degrees (2002). Today, SPC is one of 28 state colleges and, with 11 learning sites, serves as a model for incorporating bachelor’s degree programs into traditional two-year institutions.

About PSTA: The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority is the public transit provider for Pinellas County, providing more than 14.4 million rides per year. PSTA operates nearly 40 bus and trolley routes with a fleet of 203 vehicles.

Since receiving a $2.2 million Title III grant on Oct. 1, 2013, St. Petersburg College has made significant steps in its first year toward implementation of the five-year grant, The College Experience: A Pathway from Enrollment to Graduation. Aspects of the Title III grant were discussed at discipline meetings following the Fall Faculty event.

The five-year grant, awarded through the Title III Strengthening Institutions Program, is funded by the U.S. Department of Education to improve the systems, services and supports necessary to successfully guide students from enrollment to graduation.

Title III provides funding to enhance many of the initiatives of The College Experience:

  • Student Coaching System
  • My Learning Plan
  • New Student Orientation
  • Student Life Skills (SLS) course enhancements

Additionally, the grant also includes funding for several brand new projects, including:

Title III grant projects are directed by Linda Hogans, Executive Director of Retention Services, and Carrie Rodesiler, Director of Title III. Grant implementation is a college-wide endeavor that includes deans, faculty, provosts, Human Resources, Enrollment Services, Student Support Services, Institutional Research and Effectiveness, Business Services, Online Learning and Services, Marketing and Public Information and student representatives.

This Fall 2014 report includes an update on all Title III project components from the first year of the grant. The second year of the grant begins Oct. 1, 2014.

Title III Document

Pinellas County citizens will go to the polls Nov. 4 to vote on a proposed 1-cent sales tax increase to improve public transportation facilities in the county. To help them understand the pros and cons of the referendum, named Greenlight Pinellas, the Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions at St. Petersburg College will present a free public forum on the issue from 6-8 p.m. Aug 28.

The program, titled “Dealing with Gridlock: Is There a Light Rail in Pinellas County’s Future?” will be held at the Enoch Davis Recreation Center, 1111 18th Ave. S. Advance reservations are requested.

The referendum, approved to go on the ballot last fall by the Pinellas County Commission, would fund improvements in bus service provided by the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority. It would eventually support a 24-mile light-rail line serving high-employment sectors between downtown St. Petersburg and downtown Clearwater. While raising the sales tax from 7 to 8 cents per dollar, the referendum would eliminate the current .75-mill property tax dedicated to transportation.

The forum will open with a brief explanation of the proposal, followed by pro and con presentations by advocates for and against passage. Speaking for the amendment will be Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch. Speaking against will be Dan Liedtke, a member of the Gulfport City Council.

The final portion of the program will be devoted to answering questions from the audience. Moderating the debate will Dr. James Olliver, provost of the Seminole Campus.

The proposed tax increase, if approved by more than 50 percent of Pinellas voters, would authorize a 1-cent sales tax increase for 30 years, which would raise a projected $130 million per year. The tax hike would be partially offset by eliminating the current .75-mill property tax for transit that brings in $32 million.

For that revenue stream, PSTA promises a 65 percent increase in bus service, a Bus Rapid Transit line or dedicated bus lanes on major corridors and an eventual 24-mile light rail line connecting St. Petersburg and Clearwater via the Gateway/Carillon area.

The Tampa Bay Times is the media sponsor.

right foot flier - FINALSPC students are invited to a free event, Off on the Right Foot: strategies of successful students, to familiarize themselves with college life on Friday, Aug. 22. The event runs from 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Clearwater Campus in ES 104 and was funded by a 2014 SPC Foundation Innovation Grant.

The goal of the pilot program is to help students discover campus resources, attend workshops to learn good study and life skills, and meet other SPC students, faculty and support staff.

The program includes a number of 40-minute workshops on topics that include:

  • Turn a Syllabus Into a Semester Plan
  • Work Smarter: Tips From ‘A’ Students
  • Balancing School and Life Demands
  • Study Skills for Math and Science Courses
  • Match Your Major to Your Dream Job
  • Maximizing Financial Aid and Scholarships

Free breakfast and lunch is provided and a few students will leave with prizes that include a bookstore gift card, a graphing calculator or a Nook tablet.

Advanced registration is strongly encouraged. Walk-ins are accepted if seats are available on the day of the event. For more information, contact Jenica Ibarra, Reference and Instruction Librarian in Learning Resources, at 727-791-2771.

Students from the Student Veterans Association (SVA) and Men Achieving eXcellence (MAX) clubs at the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus volunteer at the Pinellas Hope Catholic Charities homeless shelter.

Students from the Student Veterans Association and Men Achieving eXcellence clubs at the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus volunteer at the Pinellas Hope Catholic Charities homeless shelter.

The Student Veterans Association and Men Achieving eXcellence organizations at St. Petersburg College served those in need at a homeless shelter in Clearwater on Saturday, July 26.

“We got a lot accomplished that day,” said Jeff Thomas, treasurer of the SVA at the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus. A group of nine students from the two clubs and MAX’s club advisor volunteered their time to clean the kitchen and spray for bugs at the Pinellas Hope Catholic Charities homeless shelter.

“It was hard manual labor, but we worked as a team and got it done,” Thomas said. “Overall, it was a very successful event.”

Student veteran Christopher Clark said he found the experience initially very shocking.

“When we first got there, we found out how many homeless veterans we have in the area who are living in tents and in some limited facilities,” said Clarke, President of the SVA at the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus. “While they didn’t have much, they were giving everything they could to help support us.”

“They were so very appreciative for the help we gave them,” Thomas said. One of the student veterans brought his son with him to volunteer, putting him to work taking out loads of trash.

“I was very proud of our SVA at the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus for the way they stepped into the community service role,” said Jeff Cavanagh, Director of Veterans Services at SPC. “They continue to shine for St. Petersburg College in that aspect.”

Tampa Bay area educators attend the Florida Standards training at the Clearwater Campus.

Tampa Bay area educators attend the Florida Standards training at the Clearwater Campus.

St. Petersburg College held a Florida Standards training session earlier this week for nearly 75 teachers and school administrators from the Tampa Bay area. The professional development event, held at the Clearwater Campus, was part of a $7.2 million Florida Department of Education grant.

The grant supports the successful implementation of the Florida Standards, the state’s academic content standards for K-12 students. The standards were designed to equip students with the knowledge and skills they need to be ready for careers and college-level coursework.

Indian River State College is the lead institution on the grant, which was awarded to 11 state colleges and two state universities. Together, the institutions will deliver professional development on instructional tools that implement the Florida Standards.

SPC received $325,000 under the grant to develop training on the Interim Assessment Item Bank, which will give teachers a valid and reliable way to diagnose strengths and weaknesses, predict difficulties, set instructional goals, and monitor learning.

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