Archive for the ‘St. Petersburg College’ Category

#WeAreSPCFor nearly 90 years, St. Petersburg College has offered educational opportunities that change lives and impact the Tampa Bay area. At SPC’s 129th commencement on Dec. 12, the college will mark the milestone of graduating its 150,000th student.

Students, alumni, community partners – help us celebrate this momentous occasion by participating in the college’s campaign to honor SPC alumni and graduates who have helped shape the college over the years.

Spread the word and share your own story today on social media by adding the hashtag #WeAreSPC to your posts and tweets on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Need inspiration?

Start by learning about some of our December graduates and notable alumni on the WeAreSPC landing page. View videos of our amazing graduates – and be prepared to be inspired. Become a part of our story by sharing yours.


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Achieving the DreamThis week, St. Petersburg College officials co-hosted a webinar entitled When Legislation Changes the Game: The New Playbook for Responding to Remedial Need for fellow Achieving the Dream (ATD) institutions.

Part of the ATD’s Technology Solutions Webinar series, the 45-minute presentation featured Jesse Coraggio, SPC’s Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness & Academic Services; Joseph Leopold, SPC’s Director of Learning Resources and Christa Ehmann Powers, Vice President & Chief Academic Officer for Pearson’s online tutoring service Smarthinking.

During the webinar, Coraggio shared how leaders at SPC got ahead of the 2014 Florida law that overhauled developmental education and now exempts most younger students from taking college prep courses although they may need them. To promote student success, SPC devised a new approach to identifying students’ remedial needs, advising students on their options, and integrating campus-based support and online services, such as Smarthinking.

Students exempt from developmental education are placed in flexible placement tracks, which allows college advisors to recommend courses based on predictive models using mainly high school and/or military records.

“We wanted to build a system to give students as much information as possible and wanted to make sure everyone had a good idea of what this legislation was about, and how we were approaching it,” Coraggio said. “We were able to accomplish a lot in a very short period of time by making sure we were focused on helping our students as the legislation became enacted.”

In 2011, with help from a state grant, SPC began offering free modular courses or Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), aimed at preparing students for college-level reading, writing and math courses. It then began focusing on integrating five high-impact practices that would become known as the College Experience, which has proven invaluable to student success. SPC employees monitor the results of these five measures each week in an effort to provide the best support to students.

So far, SPC students have increased their use of out-of-classroom support at Learning Centers by 47 percent and Smarthinking by 16 percent. SPC students who seek out-of-class support at least ten times in a semester have an 80 percent chance of completing the course with a “C” or better.

While most students receive tutoring services in person at SPC campuses, 10 percent use Smarthinking, which provides critical support for students who may not be on a campus.

“Providing students with adequate out-of-class supports is important for any college, but it’s especially critical in an environment where students have the ability to forego developmental education that they might truly need,” Leopold said. “It’s also important that these supports are available in delivery formats that work for students. Our Virtual Learning Commons offers a simple, streamlined way to connect students to out-of-class support they need and is available both on grounds and online.”

For Fall 2014, 70.5 percent of the students who took courses that college advisors recommended were successful compared to a success rate of 55 perecent among students who did not take the recommended courses.


Coraggio cautioned that it’s often difficult to “convince students they need to remain in remedial education despite all the information we provide them. At the end of the day we see the lower success rates and we just need to find a way to help these students be successful.”

For its ongoing work on student success, in 2012 SPC joined the Achieving the Dream National Reform Network. It is considered the nation’s most comprehensive non-governmental reform network for student success in higher education history. Currently more than 200 colleges from 36 states are among its members.

In September, Achieving the Dream named SPC a Leader College. This is a national designation awarded to community colleges that commit to improving student success and closing achievement gaps. SPC was the only college in Florida selected to receive the designation this year.

Check out the entire webinar

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Clearwater Campus Celebrates 50 YearsThe St. Petersburg College Clearwater Campus celebrated its 50th birthday this week with two campus events. More than 100 former and current Clearwater Campus faculty, staff and community friends attended a VIP reception and presentation on Tuesday, Nov. 17. The event had the feeling of a family reunion as old friends came together to reconnect and celebrate. The second event was held on the Clearwater Campus Quad the following day.

See pictures from both events on our Facebook Gallery.

Florida’s first woman provost

Vilma Zalupski

Former SPC Provost Vilma Zalupski

“It is a true honor to look around and see so many people that I worked with,” said Vilma Zalupski, the first woman provost in Florida, and the longest-serving provost of the Clearwater Campus (1979-1995). “This campus will always be home in my heart.”

She brought tears to the eyes of many of her old friends and colleagues as she spoke of how they hand-planted many of the trees that still stand on the campus today and watered them with little cans and coffee cups.

“As you walk across this campus you see her fingerprints everywhere,” said Susan Demers, Dean of SPC’s College of Policy, Ethics and Legal Studies who emceed the event.

SPC President Bill Law also had memories of Dr. Zalupski: “The thing I remember about you is your fierce commitment to students.”

City of Clearwater officials join in celebration

Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos

Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos

Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos took the crowd back in time to 1965 when bread cost 30 cents, you had to have a dime in your pocket to make a phone call, the Dodgers won the World Series and Medicare became law.

“Things have changed but one thing that has not changed is the commitment of this institution to educate and to help its students become productive members of society and give them a chance to live their dreams,” said Cretekos.

Clearwater City Manager Bill Horne quoted a headline from the Clearwater Sun Archives: “Modest Now But Watch Us Grow.”

Clearwater Sun, May 9,1965

Clearwater City Manager Bill Horne

Clearwater City Manager Bill Horne

The first semester of classes were held during the summer term of 1965. Currently, more than 9,500 students call the campus home. In addition to the growth in numbers of students, the campus facilities continue to expand. Plans are now underway to replace the current campus library with a new Community Library, a partnership between St. Petersburg College and the City of Clearwater.

“We are all excited about the joint-use library project,” said Horne. “I hope you feel that you left a legacy that will continue to move this community forward.”

A walk down memory lane

Dr. Joy Moore, a Clearwater Campus math professor, along with three members of the Badeya Club (Bianca Cage, Keiasha Fisher and Ariel Davis) provided a glimpse back in time with an impressive Motown Medley complete with costumes and choreography.

“All that and she teaches math too,” said Clearwater Campus Provost Stan Vittetoe. Vittetoe presented an overview of the growth of the campus, key programs and contributions of faculty, staff and community members. He also noted that Clearwater Campus was the home of two students honored among the top 20 scholars in the nation: Spenser Reed and Alistair Glover.

“You never know where your students are going to land and the impact you are going to have,” said Dr. Patricia Rowell, a Clearwater Campus provost from 2001-2003. “This campus not only had the top echelon of faculty, but we also had a lot of fun.”

Working at Clearwater Campus

Some students loved the Clearwater Campus so much they came back to work there later. Kathleen Griffin, a Clearwater Campus student, later served as Clearwater Campus Associate Provost.

“I love this campus,” said Griffin. “I started here and retired here.”

50 years of Clearwater Campus Associate Provosts: Matt Bowen, Dr.Kathleen Griffin, Jeffrey Davis and Dr. Dave Walthall.

50 years of Clearwater Campus Associate Provosts: Matt Bowen, Dr. Kathleen Griffin, Jeffrey Davis and Dr. Dave Walthall.

Jeff Cesta

Jeff Cesta

Jeff Cesta, Director of SPC’s Dual Enrollment, Early College and Early Admissions programs, graduated from SPJC Clearwater Campus in 1986.

“I was fortunate enough to return to the Physical Education & Athletic departments on the Clearwater Campus as part of my student teaching/internship for the University of Florida in 1988, and began working at the Clearwater Campus in the fall of 1989,” said Cesta. “It’s truly been a wonderful opportunity to work here at SPC Clearwater!”

The Merriam family has had someone working at Clearwater Campus consecutively since the campus opened in 1965.

Pictured from left are Fred Merriam, Rod Keskiner and Lynne Merriam.

Pictured from left are Fred Merriam, Rod Keskiner and Lynne Merriam.

Students attend campus birthday party

Faculty, staff and students came out in force on Wednesday, Nov. 18 to celebrate in the Clearwater Campus Quad. Students enjoyed pot pie, a dish dating back to 1965, birthday cake, key lime pie and ice cream.

Dr. Greg Byrd, Communications Professor on the Clearwater Campus and award-winning poet read a poem he wrote for the event entitled I am SPC-Clearwater.

See pictures from both events on our Facebook Gallery.

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St. Petersburg College is one of 17 colleges nationwide to be honored by University Business magazine in its Winter 2015 Models of Excellence recognition program. Sponsored by Higher One, a leading provider of financial services to U.S. colleges, the Models of Excellence program recognizes innovative approaches to encouraging and nurturing student success on campus.

“St. Petersburg College’s use of real-time data, through its College Experience initiative, to boost student achievement is very impressive,” said University Business senior editor Tim Goral. “Including the entire college community in these efforts to help students succeed has clearly made a positive impact.”

Tonjua Williams

Tonjua Williams

St. Petersburg College initiated the College Experience in 2012 as a way to increase the percentage of students who successfully complete core, or gateway, courses. A review of the college’s records at that time revealed that only two-thirds of the student body was earning a grade or C or better in those courses; the remaining third received a D or F. Among African-American and Latino males, the percentage was even lower, said Tonjua Williams, senior vice president for student services at St. Petersburg College.

Committed to improving student success, St. Petersburg identified five key areas known to impact success rates and incorporated them into the College Experience:

  • Out-of-class academic support
  • Integrated career and academic advising
  • Early alerts to assist struggling students
  • A custom learning plan
  • New student orientation called “Smart Start.”

Once the College Experience launched, campus leaders, advising and learning resources staff, faculty, and academic leaders began tracking student movement and actions like career decisions, class attendance, levels of engagement, tutoring sessions, meetings with faculty, and other appointments. Using the college’s Pulse Business Intelligence system, officials and employees analyze and report on the data each week to review student performance and strategize how to take action where needed. These measures provide early observation of how students are progressing and allow college personnel to intervene early on, and make adjustments in student success efforts.

“We regroup each week to review leading measures in all five initiatives,” Williams said. “Sharing the data each week allows staff to work together to connect the dots for student success.”

In the first two years of the program, overall success rates rose more than 5 percent, Williams said.

SPC President William Law

SPC President William Law

“Our College Experience initiative at St. Petersburg College continues to garner notice nationally, and I am exceptionally proud of the hard work our staff has invested to help students succeed,” said SPC President Bill Law. “This honor builds on the work we’ve done to implement meaningful support systems to help students successfully earn degrees and certifications more quickly so they can find gainful employment and boost their earnings. We know these systematic steps change students’ lives and benefit our community in countless ways.”

“These honorees demonstrate insight into their student populations, as well as the ability to innovate in creative ways,” said Andrew Crawford, senior vice president of campus services & operations at Higher One. “We are pleased to recognize their efforts alongside University Business.”

Launched in 2015, Models of Excellence is a national recognition program honoring colleges and universities that have implemented innovative, effective and inter-departmental initiatives that are bolstering student success. The program is sponsored by Higher One, which provides financial aid refund services to SPC students.

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Clearwater 50th AnniversarySt. Petersburg College will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Clearwater Campus from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 18. Located at 2465 Drew St., the campus is home to the Crossroads Gallery, the Titans Baseball team and the Collaborative Center for Emerging Technologies, the Tampa Bay area’s first open manufacturing factory work environment to train tomorrow’s engineering technology and manufacturing employees.

The event, which is open to the public, will feature:

  • Student and faculty speakers
  • Poetry reading
  • Displays
  • Light refreshments

For more information, call Kelvin Weston at (727) 791-2474.

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2016_BFV_COLLEGESSt. Petersburg College is once again among the top 20 four-year colleges in the United States for serving veterans. According to the Military Times’ Best for Vets: Colleges 2016, SPC was ranked 19 and joins the University of South Florida as the only other Florida school in the top 20.

The Best for Vets rankings, now in their sixth year, give service members, military veterans and their families a tool to assess whether a school or degree program will truly benefit them. For the past five years, St. Petersburg College has consistently ranked among the top 50 four-year schools in the nation for veterans, landing at number 15 in both 2013 and 2015.

In 2014-15, SPC served 2,329 active duty service members, veterans and their dependents, or just over 7 percent of SPC’s 33,000 students. During that time, 1,966 of those veteran students received certified GI Bill benefits.

Veterans Services at St Petersburg College has grown so much over the last five years because of our veteran-friendly nature and our terrific staff that we saw the need to develop a GI Bill Centralized Certification and Processing system,” said Jeff Cavanagh, director of SPC’s Veterans Services. The new system earned the school a nearly perfect federal audit and was hailed as a model for other schools in the state.

“That system, coupled with recruiting, and our military student resource manual that we’ve developed, has really caught the attention of individuals and organizations like the Military Times who seem keen on keeping us among the top 20 military friendly four-year schools in the United States,” Cavanagh said.

To create the rankings, Military Times used schools’ survey responses “based on what veterans have told us is more important to them, as well as on our own editorial judgment,” according to the editors. The publication also used data from the Veterans Affairs and Defense departments, and three Education Department sources: the IPEDS Data Center, College Scorecard data and the Cohort Default Rate Database.

Schools were evaluated in five board categories:

  • academic outcomes/quality
  • university culture
  • student support
  • academic policies
  • cost and financial aid

The highest value was placed on academic outcomes/quality and university culture.

According to the report, SPC scored high in staff and academic support as well as exrtacurriculuars offered to veterans, such as the number and activity level of student veteran groups, initiatives that support military spouses and families, and nonacademic school events, like service projects and Veterans Day programs. SPC has an active Student Veterans Association.

This year, more than 600 schools responded to the survey that requires them to document services, special rules, accommodations and financial incentives offered to military and veteran students and to describe many aspects of veteran culture on a campus. That number is up from 400 schools last year.

Beyond the second-ranked USF, other four-year Florida schools that made the rankings include Florida State University at 24, Florida Atlantic University at 96 and Pensacola State College at 109. No two-year or non-traditional Florida schools made the rankings.

The rankings are published in full in the issues of Army Times, Navy Times, Air Force Times and Marine Corps Times on newsstands the week of Nov. 9; and online at MilitaryTimes.com, as well as ArmyTimes.com, NavyTimes.com, AirForceTimes.com and MarineCorpsTimes.com.

“It’s been amazing to witness how colleges all across higher education have embraced service members and their families,” said Amanda Miller, editor of Military Times’ Best for Vets rankings and special editions. “Over the past six years of our surveys, we’ve seen so many schools first begin to foster – through new policies, services and dedicated facilities – and then nurture these wonderful communities.”

This is the second honor for the college’s veterans-related efforts this month. Just last week, SPC was selected as a 2016 Military Friendly® School by Victory Media.

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During 2014-15, Florida’s prison system has been rocked by a series of stories in state newspapers exposing a pattern of brutality, corruption and cover-ups in Florida prisons. The stories detailed gruesome incidents of prisoner abuse and deaths at the hands of correctional officers in an agency experiencing multiple years of high turnover, chronic understaffing, and budget woes.

prison-reformGov. Rick Scott named a new Secretary of the Department of Corrections in late 2014 – the fourth DOC secretary in four years – to clean up what was described as “a culture of corruption” in the prison system.

Now, a year later, what progress has Corrections Secretary Julie Jones made in the way of prison reform? What efforts are underway to advance public safety and improve the conditions of confinement in Florida’s prisons? What more needs to be done?

A panel of experts will seek answers to those questions at a dinner forum sponsored by the Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions at St. Petersburg College on Dec. 1. The forum, titled Florida’s Prisons: How Goes Reform?, will be from 6 to 8:15 p.m. at the Seminole Campus Conference Center, 9200 113th St. N. it is co-sponsored by the Tampa Bay Times and WEDU Television. Advance registration is required.

The panel will include Stacy Arias, Chief of Staff of the Department of Corrections; Julie Brown, the Miami Herald investigative reporter whose articles broke open the prison scandal, and former Florida Attorney General Richard Doran, who serves as Executive Committee Chairman for the Project on Accountable Justice (PAJ).

The forum represents the culmination of work done by PAJ to address prison reform over the last three years. A collaboration of St. Petersburg College, Florida State University, Baylor University and Tallahassee Community College, the project’s researchers analyzed the Florida system’s performance data and comparative analysis of best practices in other states. SPC’s Strategic Policy Institute also conducted three public forums in St. Petersburg and Tallahassee to gather input from experts.

Last spring, the project made five reform recommendations aimed at reducing recidivism, cutting prison costs, increasing professional standards, improving employee morale and creating independent oversight of prison operations – lack of which was cited as a contributing factor to inmate abuse, corruption, and systemic weaknesses. Legislation incorporating some of those recommendations was left in limbo when the House adjourned three days early, without voting on the prison reform legislation.

Tickets for the dinner and program are $25 for the general public, $20 for students and educators. Advance registration is required at http://solutions.spcollege.edu. For further information, call 727-394-6942.

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