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St. Petersburg College (SPC) President Bill Law and multiple SPC students gathered on Tuesday, May 23 to speak about the impacts of budget cuts imposed by the Florida state Legislature.

Community-College-Budget-CutsThe Legislature’s 2017-18 budget includes a $25 million reduction in funding for the Florida College System’s 28 community colleges, which includes a budget reduction of $1.8 million in funding for SPC.

Reduced funding may result in fewer class offerings and a decrease in the scope of student support measures like tutoring and integrated career and academic advising. Both could cause a delay in students finishing their degrees. The move comes at a time when community college enrollment in Florida has dropped due to an improved economy, which has already caused a decrease in tuition revenue.

“Delaying that graduation makes life very difficult for everyone. When we are in the middle of a recession, enrollment peaks. When people can’t find jobs, they come back to college.” Law said. “When money is coming back to the state, it’s hard for us to understand why the state wouldn’t find a way to put a few dollars in the Florida College System and keep us whole – keep us moving forward and let us do the good work we do to serve Pinellas County.”

Law and students urged Florida Gov. Rick Scott to veto the budget cut.

“Governor Rick Scott should veto the budget items affecting community colleges and send it back to the Legislature to have $25 million in cuts for community colleges restored for the school year of 2017-18,” said Tracy Pham, 16, Vice President of the Student Government Association on the college’s Seminole Campus.

Students said they see an inequality in the funding provided to state universities. As the Legislature cut $25 million from community colleges, it is investing an additional $232 million into state universities in 2017-18.

All students cannot afford the cost of universities, said student Nathyn Montagano, 29. St. Petersburg College’s tuition is roughly half that of state universities in Florida.

“To ask us to put ourselves into six figures worth of debt before we even enter the workforce, I mean, that’s quite the burden you’re asking us to put on ourselves,” said Montagano, who serves as Parliamentarian of the Student Government Association on the Gibbs Campus.

SPC has worked diligently to increase student success rates through additional tutoring and integrated career and academic advising to ensure that students gain skills they need to find gainful employment.

“At St. Petersburg College, we’ve made major commitments to supporting our students in our learning support centers, where students can get tutoring and help outside of classes for virtually any subject that they study in,” Law said. “And our data clearly shows that students who are engaged in out-of-class support are more likely to be successful. Any reduction in funding that threatens those support systems is detrimental to students.”

Community-College-Budget-CutsSPC, which serves thousands of military veterans each year, is nationally recognized for its veterans’ services. Brandon Smith, 31, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and President of the Student Veteran’s Association, said he worries that the decreased funding may force the college to scale back its work with veterans who are eager to return to the workforce.

“We are a community college. We come out here and transition from the military and go to school and get a job in the community. Cutting funds is bad for business…If it’s bad for business, it’s bad for veterans,” Smith said. “From your EMS workers to policemen to trade jobs like plumbers, mechanics and anything else you need, you get them from a community college. And you want to cut that? I don’t think that’s a good idea at all.”

Fatma Hedeia, 55, President of the Student Government Association on SPC’s Clearwater Campus, said she feared a decrease in class offerings, which will negatively impact SPC’s large population of part-time college students who require access to flexible scheduling options in order to juggle additional demands at work and home. She implored Gov. Scott to send the budget back to the Legislature to restore the funding.

“Cutting the budget is really going to hurt a lot of us. Not just the high school kids coming to school, but the people who are older and trying to go back to school,” Hedeia said. “Governor Scott, you’ve got to veto this bill, send it back and make them redo it.”

Approximately 1,400 of St. Petersburg College’s 1,982 Spring 2017 graduates participated in the college’s 133rd commencement ceremony on May 13 at Tropicana Field.

Spring 2017 Graduation

SPC President Bill Law welcomed guests and celebrated the accomplishments of the many students who were graduating with honors.

“Today we congratulate the students and families who have persevered to the graduation milestone,” Law said.

The Honorable George W. Greer was honored as the 2017 Outstanding Alumnus. Greer, a 1962 graduate of what was then St. Petersburg Junior College, served as a Circuit Court judge for 18 years before his retirement in 2010.

The youngest graduate was 17 years old, the oldest was 68 years old and 15 graduates were over the age of 60. Four graduates were also celebrating their birthdays. Sixty-eight percent of the graduates were female.

St. Petersburg College has awarded 162,262 degrees since the college – Florida’s first community college – was founded in 1927.

This spring, SPC awarded:

  • 1,014 Associate in Arts degrees
  • 404 Associate in Science degrees
  • 215 Bachelor of Applied Science degrees
  • 268 Bachelor of Science degrees
  • 81 certifications

Theodore E. Martin, Jr., winner of the 2016-17 Apollo Award, and Alexis Gagliardotto, recipient of the Alumni Achievement Award, addressed their fellow graduates and guests.

Martin served as the Student Government Association Representative for Phi Theta Kappa and was also an active member of Men Achieving Excellence and the SPC Health and Fitness Club. Martin, who plans to continue his education wants to become an astronaut, received an associate degree in Engineering and currently has a 3.35 G.P.A.

“I know at 28 I’m off to a late start, but if the dream can still live in me, think of how many people I can inspire along the way,” Martin said.

Gagliardotto graduated with a Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Orthotics and Prosthetics and currently has a 4.0 G.P.A. She was the president of the SPC Orthotic and Prosthetic Student Society and was a member of Phi Theta Kappa, as well as the Golden Key International Honor Society. Ms. Gagliardotto also was St. Petersburg College’s Honors College Ambassador for the Tarpon Springs campus and Early College Club Historian.

“SPC has been the training ground where I discovered my purpose in life and built the foundation of my career. Upon that foundation, I will continue to construct my future,” Gagliardotto said.

Gagliardotto thanked the faculty that helped her reach her goal.

“My professors were my ultimate mentors, wise and sage in their ways,” she said.

See more from graduation on the college’s Facebook page and on Tagboard.

SPC Spring 2017 GraduationSt. Petersburg College will hold its 133rd commencement ceremony at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 13 at Tropicana Field, One Tropicana Dr., St. Petersburg College. Approximately 1,200 of the 1,982 spring graduates are expected to participate.

At the ceremony, the Honorable George W. Greer will be honored as the 2017 Outstanding Alumnus.

The youngest graduate is 17 years old, the oldest is 68 years old and 15 graduates are over the age of 60. Sixty-eight percent of the graduates are female.

With this graduating class, St. Petersburg College will have awarded 162,262 degrees since the college – Florida’s first community college – was founded in 1927.

SPC will award:

  • 1,014 Associate in Arts degrees
  • 404 Associate in Science degrees
  • 215 Bachelor of Applied Science degrees
  • 268 Bachelor of Science degrees
  • 81 certifications

Theodore E. Martin, Jr., winner of the 2016-17 Apollo Award, and Alexis Gagliardotto, recipient of the Alumni Achievement Award, will address their fellow graduates and guests.

Martin served as the Student Government Association Representative for Phi Theta Kappa and was also an active member of Men Achieving Excellence and the SPC Health and Fitness Club. Mr. Martin will receive an Associate degree in Engineering and currently has a 3.35 G.P.A.

“I know at 28 I’m off to a late start, but if the dream can still live in me, think of how many people I can inspire along the way,” Martin said.

Gagliardotto will graduate with a Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Orthotics and Prosthetics and currently has a 4.0 G.P.A. She is the president of the SPC Orthotic and Prosthetic Student Society and is a member of Phi Theta Kappa, as well as the Golden Key International Honor Society. Ms. Gagliardotto also was St. Petersburg College’s Honors College Ambassador for the Tarpon Springs campus and Early College Club Historian.

“SPC has been the training ground where I discovered my purpose in life and built the foundation of my career. Upon that foundation, I will continue to construct my future,” Gagliardotto said.

Graduating or know a graduate? Share your excitement and congratulations on social media with the college’s graduation graphics!

Spring 2017 By The Numbers

Bridgette Bello

On, Monday, April 24, Gov. Rick Scott announced the re-appointment of Bridgette Bello as the newest St. Petersburg College Trustee. She will join the board alongside Chair Bill Foster, Vice-Chair Nathan Stonecipher, Trustee Deveron Gibbons and Trustee Katherine E. Cole.

Bello previously served on the board from 2013 to 2015, and in April 2016, she was recognized as a  Trustee Emeritus.

Bello is the President and Publisher of the Tampa Bay Business Journal.

She fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term that begins April 24, 2017 and ends May 31, 2019.

The appointment is subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.

The St. Petersburg College (SPC) Board of Trustees will hold five special meetings in May to interview five finalists for the position of college president who were selected by the college’s Search and Screen Committee.

Each finalist will spend two days visiting SPC, where they will meet with faculty, staff, students and community members.

The finalists, their interview times and dates, in chronological order, are:

4 p.m. Thursday, May 4

  • Edward Bonahue, PhD, Provost and VP for Academic Affairs, Santa Fe College, Gainesville, Florida.

4 p.m. Tuesday, May 9

  • Stan Vittetoe, PhD, Provost, St. Petersburg College, Clearwater, Florida.

4 p.m. Tuesday, May 16

  • Tonjua Williams, PhD, Vice President, Student Services, St. Petersburg College, St. Petersburg, Florida.

4 p.m. Monday, May 22

  • James Henningsen, EdD, President, College of Central Florida, Ocala, Florida.

4 p.m. Friday, May 26

  • Frank A. Biafora, Jr., PhD, Dean and Professor, College of Arts and Sciences at University of South Florida St. Petersburg.

All of the interviews will be held at the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus, Music Center, 6605 Fifth Ave N, St. Petersburg, FL.

The Board of Trustees will hold a special meeting at 9 a.m. Wednesday, May 31 to select the college’s next president. That meeting will be held at the SPC EpiCenter, Room 1-453, 13805 58th St. N, Clearwater.

For more information, visit the college’s Presidential Search website.

Enjoy St. Petersburg College’s Third Annual Touch-a-Truck event on Saturday, April 22, at the Allstate Center.

Touch-a-Truck is a free and fun community event, where families can see impressive vehicles up close, learn about their functions and find out about the exciting careers associated with them. Last year more than 650 participants attended.

When: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on April 22

Where: Allstate Center, 3200 34th St. S., St. Petersburg

Celebrating Earth Day

Touch-a-Truck

2nd Annual Touch-a-Truck 2016

Remarkable vehicles used to recycle waste, purify water, save lives and much more will also be on display to celebrate Earth Day.

During the event, participants will learn about Public Safety programs at SPC and other careers that positively impact our environment and help sustain our communities.

Activities will include Earth Day crafts, a recycling relay, and Earth Day awareness education. There will also be food options available for purchase, music, games, and a rock-climbing wall.

Get more information

For more information about sponsorship and participation, contact Dee Mortellaro at 727-614-7019 or Mortellaro.Dee@spcollege.edu.

 

St. Petersburg College Foundation donors, partners, students, and college leadership celebrated the awarding of more than $1.7 million in scholarships to over 2,000 students during the 2015-16 academic year at the 18th Annual Scholarship Appreciation Luncheon on March 30.

More than 250 guests attended the event, sponsored by RBC Wealth Management and emceed by Bay News 9’s Veronica Cintron. SPC students, Andrew Holness and Valerie Diaz, moved the audience as they shared their educational journeys with guests. Offering a donor’s perspective, Terry Brett, co-founder of the Patrick Brett Foundation and former chair of the college’s Board of Trustees, shared the heartfelt story behind the Foundation he created with wife Kim in memory of their son. The Patrick Brett Foundation funds scholarships for fresh-start students at SPC, giving them a second chance to succeed.

Diaz, who is graduating in May with an Associate in Arts degree, said, “I want to sincerely thank those who have made this all possible. All of the Foundation’s donors along with SPC’s dedicated faculty and staff have given me the opportunity to aim higher and achieve the unthinkable. Thank you for allowing me to work towards my dream and have the privilege of a good education.”

18th Annual Scholarship Foundation Luncheon

18th Annual Scholarship Foundation Luncheon

See more photos from the event on the college’s Facebook page.