Archive for April, 2012

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor addressed the possible rise in student loan interest rates at the SPC Midtown Center Monday. On July 1, the interest rate on Stafford student loans is scheduled to double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent, affecting a half million students throughout Florida who will have to pay more to attend college, Castor said.

“That is just completely untenable at this day and age,” she said. “We need to make a college education more and affordable and not less affordable.”

From left: Melissa Depasquale, 25, a finance and political science major at the University of South Florida; U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor; Mark Lombardi Nelson, 19, an entrepreneurship and finance major and President of the Student Government Association at USF St. Petersburg; Danita Randolph, 18, a nursing major and Secretary of the Student Government Association at SPC Downtown/Midtown; and John Pecora, President of the SGA at SPC Downtown/SPC Midtown.

Castor told the group at Midtown that she is co-sponsoring a bill she is hopeful will make a difference in the lives of many students whose college educations are made possible with student loans. Students like John Pecora and Mark Nelson, who are SPC sophomores, have growing concerns about what the increase will mean for their futures.

“When I committed to this education, it was going to give me a new career path,” said Pecora, an SPC student  majoring in Education. “I understood that the loan rate was 3.4 and now I find out that two years into it,  it could double.”

The thought of a hike in student loans during a time where employment is down and many families are just making ends meet is horrendous, Castor said. University of South Florida St. Petersburg Student Government President Mark Nelson is a first generation college student. Coming from a large family — his mother never finished high school and his father also dropped out but later obtained a GED  – Nelson views completing his education as an obligation, not just to himself, but to his family.

“Going to college is basically putting the family on my back, really saving them, being able to put us in the future to make sure that we can sustain ourselves,” said Nelson, who attends USF on a scholarship, but has also needed to take out student loans to continue his eduation.

As both a student and a representative for his peers, Nelson finds it important that loan rates remain unchanged.

“The 3.4 percent is low enough to where it’s fair, if it’s doubled, people will be hurt including me,” Nelson said. “They can’t do it, we can’t pay, we really can’t.”

Because of the severe impact the student loan interest rate increase will have on students and families, Castor is doing what she can to maintain the status quo.

“Unless the Congress acts, then they (students) are going to be subject to at least a $1,000 increase in the cost of attending college,” Castor said.

The pressing issue of student loan debt, which tops $867 billion, has been a hot topic in the news, including National Public Radio, the Baltimore Sun and the Seattle Times.

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Signifying a strong commitment to student success and completion, St. Petersburg College is one of 25 institutions selected this year into the Achieving the Dream National Reform Network – the nation’s most comprehensive non-governmental reform network for student success in higher education history. SPC will begin immediately to identify strategies to close achievement gaps and increase student retention, persistence and completion rates.

“The opportunity to become an Achieving the Dream college includes a commitment to align resources – current and future – to the programs, activities, and services determined the most impactful in improving the success of our students,” said Bill Law, President, St. Petersburg College.

The college’s planning is still in the early stages. A kickoff conference is scheduled for early June in Portland, Ore., and SPC representatives will attend.

“This new cohort of colleges will collectively help 270,000 students succeed,” said Beverly Fletcher, Senior Director of Organizational Development and Change for Achieving the Dream. “And the success of each student means much more than just a personal goal secured. It means improved skills, better employability, and economic growth for their community and our nation as a whole.”

As an Achieving the Dream Institution, SPC will develop and implement research-based policies and practices based on quantitative and qualitative analyses of its institutional strengths, problem areas, and achievement gaps. SPC is committed to assessing the effectiveness of these policies and practices, institutionalizing the approaches that prove successful, and sharing the findings widely. Through Achieving the Dream, SPC will have the opportunity to learn from other Achieving the Dream Institutions, and receive assistance from experienced practitioners in building a culture of evidence campus-wide, using data to identify problems, setting priorities, and measuring progress toward increasing student success.

The Achieving the Dream 2012 Cohort

Albany Technical College (GA) Columbia Gorge Community College (OR) Oregon Coast Community College (OR)
Arkansas Baptist College (AR) Columbus State Community College (OH) Pierce College (WA)
Atlanta Technical College (GA) Columbus Technical College (GA) Southwestern Oregon Community College (OR)
Gaston College (NC) St. Petersburg College (FL)
Augusta Technical College (GA) Georgia Piedmont Technical College (GA) Stanly Community College (NC)
Blue Mountain Community College (OR) Klamath Community College (OR) Tillamook Bay Community College (OR)
Central Alabama Community College (AL) Kingsborough Community College (NY) Umpqua Community College (OR)
Central Georgia Technical College (GA) Linn-Benton Community College (OR) Wallace State Community College (Hanceville, AL)
College of Southern Nevada (NV) Miami Dade College (FL)

“The work of closing achievement gaps and improving student success is extremely difficult and critically important,” said Beverly Fletcher, Senior Director of Organizational Development and Change for Achieving the Dream. “Being an Achieving the Dream Institution takes courage, discipline, and a tenacious institution-wide commitment to student success and equity. St. Petersburg College should be applauded for helping tackle one of society’s most daunting challenges: success for more college students.”

The Achieving the Dream Model

Each new college will commit to the Achieving the Dream Student-Centered Model of Institutional Improvement. Based on four principles, the model frames the overall work of helping more students, particularly low-income students and students of color, stay in school and earn a college certificate or degree. Each college will approach the work differently, but Achieving the Dream’s five-step process will provide practical guidelines for helping keep the focus where it belongs and building momentum over time. Throughout the process, Achieving the Dream coaches will offer customized support and help each college’s core team implement data-informed programs and policies that build long-term, institution-wide commitment to student success.

Achieving the Dream is a national nonprofit leading the nation’s most comprehensive non-governmental reform network for student success in higher education history. The Achieving the Dream National Reform Network, including nearly 200 institutions, more than 100 coaches and advisors, and 15 state policy teams – working throughout 32 states and the District of Columbia – helps 3.75 million community college students have a better chance of realizing greater economic opportunity and achieving their dreams.

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Jacob Mitchell
Jacob Mitchell
Alexander Checca
Alexander Checca
Katie Colin
Katie Colin
Maureen Davis
Maureen Davis

Four students in the Clearwater Campus Student Government Association have been elected officers for the state level and District 3 in the Florida College System Student Government Association (FCSSGA) for 2012-13. District 3 of FCSSGA includes SPC, College of Central Florida, Pasco Hernando Community College, Polk State College, Hillsborough Community College and State College of Florida, Sarasota-Bradenton.

“The Clearwater Campus Student Government Association was the only SPC campus to have nominees for the college,” said Stephanie Henningsen, Student Services Officer for Student Life & Leadership at the Clearwater Campus.

Jacob Mitchell, Vice President, Statewide

Mitchell, 19, is a former homeschooler who enrolled at SPC at age 17 and will graduate next year with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. Mitchell, who has served as 2011-12 vice president in the Clearwater Campus Student Government Association, said he plans to stay active as a Senator and advisor to the SGA at Clearwater while serving in the state position.

“This is more or less a promotion, and I love it,” Mitchell said about the FCSSGA position. “My goal as VP is to assist the President in securing his initiatives and with that position comes a lot of responsibility.”

Mitchell, who serves as an Executive Officer in the Civil Air Patrol, said he’s used to taking command and seeing projects through completion. Although he could have graduated this spring, he elected to take his time with his education at SPC to grow and better prepare for a career in the U.S. Army. His degree in business administration will serve as his backup plan should the military career not pan out or he needs to return to civilian work.

“I want to garner as much leadership experience and learn to handle and cope with different levels of stress, be able to work with different personalities and people beforehand to be as prepared as possible for combat in the military,” said Mitchell, who intends to commission as an officer.

“I have a firm understanding that plans never go quite the way you want them to in a combat situation or an operation, so I want to be able to think quickly on my feet and be better prepared to address problems in conflict situations.”

Mitchell is the younger brother of Samantha Mitchell, the 2010 Apollo Award winner.

Alexander Checca, Assistant Coordinator, District 3

Checca, 19, is a post-secondary Math Education freshman at the Clearwater Campus. His involvement with the campus’ Student Government Association began as the president of Akiba Keiy club and the Akiba Kei SGA representative. He is applying for the position of Communications Director for SGA.

Katie Colin, Legislative Liaison, District 3

Colin, 17, serves as the Freshmen Representative for the Clearwater Campus Student Government Association. She is a dual-credit student through Dunedin High School and is majoring in nursing with a minor in American Sign Language.

Maureen Davis, Alternate Jurisprudence, District 3

Davis, 43, serves as Jurisprudence for the Clearwater Campus Student Government Association for one year and has been involved with the SGA for more than two years. She is a humanities major.

Clearwater Campus students Sarah Pemberton and Alistair Glover served as State President and State Secretary for FCSSGA in 2011-12. Andrew Malyj, a fellow Clearwater Campus student, also served as Elections Chair for the same year.

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St. Petersburg College is a top workplace in the Tampa Bay area.

On Sunday the college was listed in “The Tampa Bay Times Top Workplaces” – a compilation of the best places to work in the Tampa Bay area. The college was named in a special section of the Times and on its website.

The evaluation for the Top Workplaces program was based on feedback from 1,242 employee sureys completed a few months ago.

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The seventh annual SEmmy Awards took place at the Seminole Campus Digitorium on Tuesday, April 24. The annual event is sponsored by the Seminole Campus’ Digital Arts Program and is open to all SPC students as well as local high school students. Check out the entire ceremony.

The program’s keynote speaker was Emmy Award-winning journalist Victoria Lim, who the Pointer Institute calls “The Queen of Convergence.” The reporter for WFLA, Channel 8 in Tampa was named the 2006 Journalist of the Year by the Society of Professional Journalists.

This year’s competition had the largest number of entries in the SEmmy Awards’ history and for the first time, awarded a $500 scholarship to the Best of Show category winner — Charlie Parker.

Other winners included:

Best Video Game Creation:
Christopher Hicks: St. Petersburg Titan

Most Creative Digital Media Authoring:
Christopher Hicks: Fire Safety Quiz

Best Digital Graphics:
Jennifer Falck: Dragon Billboard Design

Best Digital Imaging:
Jennifer Falck: Beauty and the Beast

Best Camera:
Charlie Parker: The Ghost of Ethan White

Best Direction:
Ray Martinez: Bad Cop, Bad Cop

Best Editing:
Steven Berry: That’s Love’s Power

Best Interactive Music/Sound “Zone” Design:
Mike Gaudreau: Delicate Realm

Best Song:
Jason Stevens: Y

Best Thematic Composition for Film or Game:
Justin Shea: Justin’s Rhapsody

High School Best Internet Media:
Shane Cochrane: JROTC Website- Dixie Hollins

High School Best Video Production:
Ezekiel Rosenbluth: Erase-ism

High School Best Graphic Design:
Haley LaMont: ThisisPatrick

Best of Show:
Charlie Parker: The Ghost of Ethan White

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Ken Burke
Robert Fine
Deveron Gibbons
Tim North

Gov. Rick Scott has reaffirmed the appointments of St. Petersburg College trustees, Deveron Gibbons, Timothy North and Robert Fine. They were reappointed to the Board in September 2011, but the Senate failed to confirm the appointments before the end of the most recent legislative session because of the high volume of legislative matters. As a result, the Governor had the option to change his recommendations.

Long-time trustee, Kenneth Burke was not reaffirmed by the Governor. He has been a valued member of the board for nearly 13 years.

Burke, a graduate of St. Petersburg College, was originally appointed by former Gov. Jeb Bush in 1999 and reappointed by Gov. Charlie Crist in 2007.

“Ken Burke served St. Petersburg College in an exemplary way for many years,” President Bill Law said. “His contributions have been significant and he has helped make the college what it is today.”

In 2005, Florida’s Education Commissioner named him the Community Colleges’ representative to a statewide commission to study “access to higher education.” In 2005-06, he led the Association of Community College (ACCT) trustees as Chairman of the Board. He served on this board from 2001-07. In 2008, he was elected to the board of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC). In 2010, he was appointed to the association’s executive committee and is perhaps the only college trustee to receive such an appointment.

Burke also serves on the AACC’s 21st Century Commission on the Future of Community Colleges, an organization charged with comprehensively examining the challenges and opportunities facing the fastest growing sector of higher education.

“It has been a privilege for me to serve on the (St. Petersburg College) board,” Burke said. “Under Dr. Law’s leadership, the college will reach new heights and our students will experience even greater success. I love St. Petersburg College and will continue to be a loyal supporter.”

Board Chairman Terry Brett has served with Burke since joining the board in 2008.

“Ken dedicated so much of his energy to improving this college,” Brett said. “His foremost interests were always the college and the students.”

No replacement for Burke has been named by the governor at this time.

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Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art, Tarpon Springs Campus

The Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art at the Tarpon Springs Campus has been recognized as No. 46 in the Florida Architecture: 100 Years. 100 Places. online competition by the Florida by the Florida Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA Florida). The competition, which commemorates the organization’s 100-year anniversary, received 2.4 million votes in four weeks.

The museum, which opened in January 2002, was designed by award-winning architect E. C. Hoffman Jr. and built by Creative Contractors, Inc. The 53,000 square-foot building simulates the bow of a ship—a post modernist nod toward Tarpon Springs’ fishing and sponging communities—and is comprised of three buildings in one: the museum, the Ellis Foundation Art Education Center and the Michael M. Bennett Library.

Hoffman Architects, PA was awarded the 2002 H. Dean Rowe Award of Design Excellence by the Tampa Bay Chapter of the American Institute of Architects for the design of the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art.

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