Archive for November, 2011

St. Petersburg College President Bill Law joined his counterparts from the University of South Florida, Pasco-Hernando Community College and Hillsborough Community College earlier today to sign a Regional Consortium Agreement.

The agreement is a pledge by Judy Genshaft (USF), Katherine Johnson (PHCC) and Ken Atwater (HCC) and Bill Law to work together to align the instructional programs within the region to create enhanced educational access, efficient degree production and a highly skilled regional workforce.

It is far more enhanced than the current statewide 2+2 arrangement and demonstrates the sense of collaboration that the institutions share in terms of building a truly seamless regional vision for higher education. The presidents have been working on the agreement for more than a year.

Law told the SPC Board of Trustees Tuesday of the agreement and said that it should should also help in securing grants. He said applying with other institutions for a region is a big benefit. “This is a natural for us,” he said.

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The St. Petersburg Times, Tampa Tribune and the University of South Florida’s Oracle covered the creation of the Tampa Bay Regional Consortium, a partnership aimed at aligning the instructional programs within the region to create enhanced educational access, efficient degree production and a highly skilled regional workforce.

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From left: Panelists Diane Nelson, Keith Fitzgerald, Mike Bilirakis; moderators Laurie King, David Klement and Jeffrey Kronschnabl.
From left: Panelists Diane Nelson, Keith Fitzgerald, Mike Bilirakis; moderators Laurie King, David Klement and Jeffrey Kronschnabl. The forum will air on SPC-TV at 8 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 27.

More than 260 students, faculty and members of the public attended the forum “The Ethics of Being a Citizen: Is It More Than Voting and Paying Taxes?” on Wednesday, Nov. 9 at the Seminole Campus.

The event, the first in a series sponsored by the Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions and the Applied Ethics Institute, discussed the responsibilities of U.S. citizens and the public officials whom they elect to represent them from local, state and national levels. Panelists included Diane Nelson, Pinellas County Tax Collector; Keith Fitzgerald, former State Representative for District 69; and Mike Bilirakis, former U.S. Representative for District 9. Moderators included Laurie King, Instructor, Applied Ethics; David Klement, Executive Director, Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions; and Jeffrey Kronschnabl, Instructor in Charge, Public Policy and Administration.

The panelists took questions from the moderators as well as written questions from the attending audience. Additional viewers tuned in to the live broadcast from various other locations around the college.

The next event in the series, “Solving the National Debt Crisis: It’s Not Rocket Science,” will be Wednesday, Dec 7 at 6 p.m. in the Conference Center in the library at the Seminole Campus. It will feature Joshua Gordon, Director of Policy at The Concord Coalition, a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to educating the public about federal budget issues and their consequences for the future. Gordon also served as Research Advisor for the film “I.O.U.S.A./Solutions.”

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Solutions to the national debt crisis are not terribly difficult – if politics can be removed from the equation.

That is the theme of a free public forum to be presented Dec. 7 by the Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions at the college. Titled “Solving the National Debt Crisis: It’s Not Rocket Science,” the forum will be from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Conference Center at the Seminole Campus. The event is co-sponsored by WUSF Public Media, the St. Petersburg Times and BrightHouse Networks.

The solutions will be offered by the Concord Coalition, a non-partisan, grassroots organization based in Washington, D.C. Its documentary film, “I.O.U.S.A. Solutions,” takes the complexity out of the national debt crisis. The film presents the shocking scale of the national debt in clear, easily-understood terms and then offers in clear, concise form a four-step plan for gradually getting the country out of the crisis.

Presenting the film and update of the fiscal crisis will be Joshua Gordon, Policy Director of the Concord Coalition. Dr. Gordon, who grew up in Seminole and graduated from St. Petersburg High School, directs the Coalition’s research on the federal budget, health care policy and tax policy. He is a frequently-quoted expert in national press coverage of fiscal issues.

This forum will be staged just two weeks after the deadline for Congress’ “Super Committee” to have released its recommendations on a $1.5 trillion deficit-reduction package. Failure to reach agreement on such a package will trigger $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts. He will provide the latest information on the status of the committee and assess impacts of its recommendations.

The Concord Coalition is dedicated to educating the public about the causes and consequences of federal budget deficits, the long-term challenges facing America’s unsustainable entitlement programs, and strategies to build a sound foundation for economic growth. It was founded in the early 1990s out of the conviction that Americans have a moral obligation to leave the country better off for their children and grandchildren.

The Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions is SPC’s new policy center, focusing on academic enrichment, community outreach and public discourse. Resolutely non-partisan, it plans to present a broad program of forums and workshops on issues of critical concern to Tampa Bay-area residents.

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The college’s Ethics team finished fourth out of 26 teams in the Southern Regional Ethics Bowl at the EpiCenter Saturday, Nov. 12 to qualify for the national tournament March 1 in Cincinnati. The region is among the largest in the country.

Team members Nick Pizanias, Michele Grice, Sarah Pemberton, Kevin Healy and Dylan Lunsford, led by coaches Eric Carver and Maureen Mahoney, stood up to stiff competition from schools such as the Wake Forest University, University of Alabama at Birmingham, The Citadel, University of Florida and more.

“The team really stepped up with an outstanding performance,” Mahoney said. “We were all very proud of their performance and look forward to going to nationals.”

The team would like to thank JoAnn Hopkins, Eric Tucker, George Sherman, Gloria Hobson, Susan Demers and the rest of the St. Petersburg College family who volunteered to make this competition a huge success.

The UAB defeated Wake Forest in the final round to take the first place trophy. The competition was co-hosted by SPC, the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and Eckerd College.

Other teams advancing are Eckerd College and the University of Florida. The day-long competition included three preliminary rounds, semifinals and the final round debating a range of current ethical issues including topics ranging from the regulation of puppy farms to the reduction of pensions.

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SPC is one of the top 50 veteran-friendly colleges in the nation, according to the Military Times Edge.

In spring 2011, the military publication dedicated to assisting service members with career preparation polled more than500 student veterans to find out what they considered the most important school services for veterans. The results served as the foundation for the survey that placed emphasis on academic accreditation, central veterans’ offices and staff knowledgeable on veterans’ issues. Results showed that some of the most important services for student veterans fell in the area of affordable tuition costs. Criteria such as cost per credit hour for programs, participation in veteran scholarship programs and low out-of-state tuition program fees were a few of the services student veterans look for when considering a college.

Jeff Cavanagh
Jeff Cavanagh

Jeff Cavanagh, Coordinator of Veteran Affairs, was pleased to find out that the college ranked among the top 50.

“We had approximately 500 to 600 veteran students two years ago, now we have over 1,500,” Cavanagh said. “It makes me feel very good that we’re in the top 50. That’s a definite plus for us.”

The college has not only grown in terms of student veteran population, but also in service locations. Veteran service centers are located at the St. Petersburg/Gibbs, Clearwater, Tarpon Springs and Seminole campuses and are looking to expand to other campuses.

“Everything we do, and we’re moving forward to offer more and more specifics, is just for those individuals who are veteran students,” Cavanaugh said.

Cavanagh credits the passion of the veteran services staff’ for student success for this achievement. However, for Cavanagh and the veteran services staff this is only the beginning. He thinks there is still plenty of work left to do to make it to the top.

“I think this ranking just shows that we have more work we want to do to get us up to No. 1,” Cavanagh said.

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Florida Today reported on the rise of female funeral directors and talked to SPC Funeral Services student Dori McKenzie about her experience.

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The St. Petersburg Times Sunday’s Latitudes section featured the reinvention of the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art.

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President Bill Law receives the "Outstanding Citizen" award from Watson Haynes, Vice Chairman of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc Achievement Week Program.
President Bill Law receives the “Citizen of the Year” award from Watson Haynes, Vice Chairman of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Achievement Week Program.

Bill Law, President of St. Petersburg College, has been selected by Eta Rho Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. to receive its highest honor “Citizen of the Year” award for his outstanding efforts in the community and in education. He will be the first non-African American to receive this honor in the 49-year history of the chapter.

Gibbs High School, a predominately African-American high school in St. Petersburg, tried to shake its status as an “F” school and improve its FCAT score. To make matters worse, the Department of Education changed the school’s status from ”F” to “intervene,” giving authority to the state to step in to improve the school.

That didn’t sit well with Law. He read about the school’s plight and wanted to help. He worked with the county school superintendent and the principal and staff of Gibbs High School to find a solution. Although there was no budget to assist Gibbs High School, Law offered full use of SPC’s resources. That meant access to higher education and academic support for Gibbs students. Through SPC, Gibbs students were able to take SPC’s college placement test, as well as take college classes at their high school.

Students weren’t the only ones to benefit from the Gibbs-SPC partnership. Gibbs faculty received support through a co-teaching model, classroom teaching theories and workshops on teaching strategies. In addition, SPC delivered a high-quality reading program to Gibbs.

Law took leadership in guiding the college board of trustees to stop the closing of the Midtown Campus. He worked with Mayor Bill Foster and City Council to identify a site on 22nd street where a full service 30,000-square-foot building will be constructed. He also hired Gibbs High School Principal, Kevin Gordon, to be the Provost of the college’s downtown and midtown campuses.

Also honored will be 30 African-American male scholars from three schools. This project of the fraternity, in addition to its volunteer efforts with the Pathfinder’s Program, underscores the fact that black males are interested in academic achievement.

The Achievement Week public program is at 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 13 at Greater Mt. Zion AME Church, 1045 16th St. S, St. Petersburg.

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Lauren Harbaugh
Lauren Harbaugh

St. Petersburg College and the Dali Museum will introduce audiences to emerging opera artists through dynamic 20-minute performances the third Thursday of every month. Performances are from 6 to 6:30 p.m. at the Dali Museum. The next one is Nov. 17.

Lauren Harbaugh, a second-year Vocal Performance major under the direction of Marilyn Michael, will be next week’s featured artist. The Mezzo Soprano recently was seen in Die Fledermaus, Madam Butterfly and Cosi Fan Tutte with the St. Petersburg Opera and has competed in the St. Petersburg Opera’s Opera Idol. Harbaugh has been featured in master classes with members of the Bolshoi Opera, Valdimir Gertz of Moscow Conservatory and Ronita Miller, Mezzo Soprano of San Francisco and Los Angeles.

For more information on Opera at the Dali, please visit the museum’s website or call 727-823-3767.

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