Archive for the ‘St. Petersburg College’ Category

St. Petersburg College has been selected as one of only 30 community colleges in the nation to participate in a three-year intensive Pathways Project, led by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC).

Supported by funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Pathways Project will help build capacity for community colleges to design and implement high-quality, structured academic and career pathways for all students, aligned for both university transfer and jobs with value in the labor market.

“The development of our Academic and Career Pathways Program has been a priority initiative at St. Petersburg College over the last few years, and we are honored to be recognized as a leader in this area,” said SPC President Bill Law. “This designation builds on the work we’ve done to implement meaningful support systems to help students successfully earn degrees and certifications more quickly – while mitigating debt burdens – 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.”


Pathways Project, led by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC)

This fall, SPC successfully launched 184 academic and career pathways within 95 certificate, associate and bachelor degree programs that were developed to provide students with a logical sequence of courses offerings and embedded programmatic certificates and industry recognized certifications.

The purpose is to provide students with a clear and concise roadmap to graduation, while allowing them to earn stackable credentials along the way that can increase their earning potential. While the pathways provide students guidance on the most effective sequencing and number of classes to take each semester – as well as clarity regarding which semester courses are offered – students still have a great deal of flexibility in their choices.

The pathways include comprehensive wraparound support services and a robust integration of curriculum designed with input from with local industry leaders to ensure students are workforce ready at graduation.

“We have taken the guesswork out of course selection to ensure that students can achieve academic milestones more quickly, so they can get into the workforce or move up in their careers sooner,” said Jesse Coraggio, SPC’s Vice President of Institutional Effectiveness and Academic Services. “Pathways are going to revolutionize the way students progress along their academic journeys, and allow them to gain credentials along the way that will help them earn more in their respective fields.”

St. Petersburg College is one of only four colleges in the state to be selected for the program. The others include Broward College, Indian River State College and Tallahassee Community College.

Building on emerging research and experience in the field, the project reflects AACC’s commitments to follow through on recommendations set forth in the 2012 report of the 21st Century Commission on the Future of Community Colleges, Reclaiming the American Dream, and the 2014 implementation guide, Empowering Community Colleges to Build the Nation’s Future.

Since 2012, St. Petersburg College has focused on improving student success by using intensive and collegewide analysis of student data. SPC created the College Experience, an ambitious series of five core student success interventions that were simultaneously executed based on the belief that in order to truly identify and address barriers to student achievement, the college must employ a holistic and comprehensive strategy. Among those efforts, career counseling and academic planning were integrated to provide students clear educational paths that lead to employment. SPC’s Academic and Career Pathways Program is the culmination of those efforts.

College Experience support services and interventions have resulted in successfully increasing student achievement across the board, and in particular for First-Time-In-College (FTIC) students and African American and Hispanic males. This kind of analysis allows for SPC to better understand student performance over time – analyzing how students are performing and why, and which students are falling behind and when – to focus efforts where large-scale gains can be attained.

As part of the AACC Pathways Project, SPC will collaborate with institutions that have complementary goals and student success-centered practices that could be scaled or replicated. As part of the project, SPC will work with Pathways Project colleges to determine:

  • how students experience and understand program pathways, and the career and further education opportunities to which they lead
  • how prescriptive should colleges be regarding students’ program-related decisions
  • what supports help students choose and enter a program of study efficiently
  • the costs to redesign colleges’ new student intake processes to help students better choose and enter a program of study

“I truly believe SPC’s Academic and Career Pathways Program is a ‘game-changer’ for our students,” Law said. “So, we are particularly excited to share what we’ve learned, have the opportunity to learn from others, and collaborate with colleges and partnering institutions to help develop a sustainable model for educational institutions across the nation.”

Six institutes will be held over the course of the three-year program. A team of five SPC representatives will attend the first of the AACC institutes in San Antonio, Texas in February, 2016.

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Construction is on schedule for St. Petersburg College’s new learning center for students interested in science, technology, engineering and math.

Last year, SPC received $2.5 million from Florida Legislature Public Education Capital Outlay (PECO) funds to complete the Bay Pines STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Learning Center, a hands-on science learning complex located adjacent to the Intracostal Waterway in Pinellas County.

The anticipated cost of this project will be approximately $4.7 million.

Bay Pines Learning Center

Dr. John Chapin, dean of natural sciences at SPC, is working to ensure the new center’s success. It will provide research opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math. The project broke ground in August and currently is set for completion by Fall 2016.

“The building will have two labs that can accommodate 24 students, and one lab that will be set up to handle small group research projects. The smaller lab will accommodate three different groups simultaneously but has the capability to handle more groups dependent upon scheduling,” Chapin said. “The entire building was designed to be flexible.”

The center’s auditorium/multipurpose room will seat 80 to 90 people or can be divided into two separate groups of 40 to 45 people each. It will have an associated catering kitchen to support events involving meals. It will also be ideal for college or community groups to use for meetings.

“The building will of course have the most up-to-date wireless networking capability, as well as all of the usual audiovisual capabilities. In labs, we will use high-definition rather than projection equipment, as the resolution is much better for projecting microscopic images and other graphics,” Chapin said.

An environmental learning lab also is being built within the building. This project will involve the placement of wireless sensors throughout the property that will measure a variety of physiological characteristics such as plants at the property and the water conditions during a hurricane.

“The sensors will be designed by our engineering tech students and deployed by the tech students in combination with our biology, environmental, marine biology, microbiology and chemistry students. The data will be live and on the web available for anyone to use in their teaching activities,” Chapin said.

SPC students enrolled in any marine-or-environmental-themed course will have access to all of the lab equipment in the learning center. That equipment includes microscopes, incubators, refrigerators, measuring and calibration equipment, and autoclaves with other items to be added as needed for new projects at the site.

SPC plans to collaborate with Pinellas County Schools during this project. The purpose of the partnership is to serve as a professional development resource for county and area private schools’ science faculty. The learning center will also serve as a site for local middle and high school science fairs.

“From the beginning Pinellas County Schools has been very interested in partnering with us to provide ongoing professional development opportunities,’” Chapin said.

Faculty and staff at SPC are in support of this new project. “It is really going to increase our enrollment at the college and provide endless opportunities for students going into areas such as science, technology, engineering and math,” Renee Kessing, career and academic advisor at SPC, said.

“There are a lot of students who come into advising and are wanting more information on jobs in these specific study areas. The learning center will provide them with the resources and information they need to be successful,” Kessing said.

“I remember when the project was first approved back in 2014, and everyone was so excited to get it started. It is so fascinating to see how far it has come,” Kessing stated.

Students at SPC are also inquiring and showing interest in the learning center.

“I am studying neuropsychology, and the resources and opportunities that will be available for science at the learning center will help me advance in my career field,” Melissa Dabydeen, second-year SPC student, said.

“It is also very cool and smart of our college to want to partner with Pinellas County Schools during this project. It will provide training for faculty in public schools that teach in the STEM areas,” Dabydeen said.

The Bay Pines Learning Center site is well on the way to being completed. Construction workers have their portable set up and progress continues.

“This facility is a center that will welcome community groups focused on improving our environment. I am really excited to expand our college and offer students more opportunities to succeed,” Chapin said.

This project update was provided by SPC graduate and current University of Florida student Destinee Bullard.

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On Wednesday, Oct. 28, St. Petersburg College kicked off the second annual Moving the Needle conference.

This year, more than 250 educators from more than 40 colleges and universities across the country met to share best practices and learn new ways to improve the use of data leading to student success.

“If we want to change data culture, everybody has to be at the table,” said Jesse Coraggio, Vice President of Institutional Effectiveness and Academic Services and the lead organizer of the event. “It is together that we are actually going to move the needle and make the change.”

Jesse Coraggio

Jesse Coraggio

SPC President Bill Law began Wednesday afternoon’s session by emphasizing the importance of using data to promote student success.

“The challenge is to take a big complex organization and get everyone moving in the same direction,” said Law. “The data is what changes professional opinions and behaviors.”

He gave an overview of The College Experience, explaining how SPC monitors data for five key areas to track students’ actions to help them finish what they start.

The event’s keynote presentation was given by Dr. Mark Milliron, Chief Learning Officer at Civitas Learning. Milliron was the founding chancellor of Western Governors University, Texas, and also served as deputy director for postsecondary improvement with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“I think we are about to unlock a golden age of education,” said Milliron.

He went on to explain how data is enabling us to reach and teach more people than ever before drawing comparisons from the fields of athletics, healthcare and education.

“We are realizing that small moves made with analytics can make a huge difference,” he said.

Milliron led a panel discussion on Using Data to Improve Student Success featuring:

  • Laura Mercer, Director, Research, Analytics and Reporting, Sinclair Community College
  • Paul Dosal, Vice Provost for Student Success at University of South Florida
  • Bill Law, President, St. Petersburg College
Mark Milliron, Laura Mercer, Paul Dosal and Bill Law

Mark Milliron, Laura Mercer, Paul Dosal and Bill Law

Mercer, who also teaches classes at Sinclair Community College, explained how personal notes to her students “sent engagement through the roof” proving that short, empathetic messages to students can make a difference.

“I can tell you without reservation that the people who changed my life were the people at the community college,” said Milliron. “They took the time to really challenge me.”

The panel discussed the use of apps that make it easier for faculty and staff to communicate effectively with their students.

“I am most excited about the potential for having this information in a useful form in the hands of the people who can most effectively touch students,” said Mercer.

The panel also discussed how educators are now entering the emerging field of predictive analytics and are learning that regarding intervention analysis, it’s not the same for all students.

“I think the students will tell us how to optimize the tools,” said Law. “If we keep that door open I think we’ll have great tools.”

Panel members explained the importance of using live data to make decisions quickly and then being ready to evaluate the outcomes and make changes as needed.

“I like the approach that we are all in this learning together and trying to adapt and grow and improve constantly, said Dosal. “We don’t know all the answers. But we have a vision of where we want to go.”

Held at downtown St. Petersburg’s Hilton Bayfront, the three-day event also included Collaborative Labs and a variety of topical sessions, as well as a second keynote panel discussion on Guided Pathways and Student Success led by Dr. Davis Jenkins, Senior Research Associate with the Community College Research Center. Panel members included:

  • Joyce Walsh-Portillo, Associate VP of Academic Affairs, Broward College
  • Wendi Dew, Assistant VP Teaching and Learning, Valencia Community College
  • Sabrina Crawford, Executive Director of Institutional Research and Effectiveness, St. Petersburg College

Follow the event on Twitter at #movetheneedle2015.

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MTN-2015St. Petersburg College, nationally recognized for using data-driven strategies to increase student achievement, will host its second annual Moving the Needle Conference, Oct. 28-30 at the Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront, 333 First St. S, St Petersburg.

The event begins with registration at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 28, followed by a Welcome and Introduction at 2 p.m., a keynote address at 3:15 and a reception at 5:30 p.m. Panels, sessions and workshops continue from 8:15 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 29, and from 8:15 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 30.  The event is not open to the public, but members of the media are invited to attend.

The conference is designed for postsecondary leadership teams to engage in collaborative discussions and methods regarding the improved use of data leading to student success. More than 200 postsecondary educators from across the country are expected to attend.

St. Petersburg College has become a leader in using data to drive student success initiatives that can be monitored and adjusted in real-time. The college uses a robust business intelligence system that was designed in-house to enable faculty, staff and college leaders to make evidence-based decisions. For these efforts, SPC received a 2014 Florida College System Chancellor’s Best Practice Award and has been named a 2015 Leader College by Achieving the Dream. Additionally, college leaders have been invited to speak about SPC’s data-driven culture by the Aspen Institute and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“We have been using data to inform our work with students for several years and have seen some amazing successes,” said Dr. Jesse Coraggio, conference organizer and St. Petersburg College Associate Vice President of Institutional Effectiveness and Academic Services. “We’re excited to share those proven best practices and collaborate with others on data-driven strategies that can benefit students in Florida and all across the country.”

Conference topics include:

  • Creating a responsive and ‘nimble’ organizational culture
  • Creating and employing data tools and dashboards
  • Building a data-driven culture
  • Using data to improve academic success
  • Employing high impact practices within student support services
  • Employing shared governance, responsibility and transparency practices

Two keynote panels will be held. The first, focusing on using data to improve student success will be facilitated by Dr. Mark Milliron, Co-Founder and Chief Learning Officer of Civitas Learning. Panelists are:

  • Dr. Chris Bustamante, President of Rio Salado College, Tempe, Ariz.
  • Dr. Paul Dosal, Vice-Provost of Student Services at the University of South Florida, Tampa
  • Laura Mercer, Director of Research, Analytics, and Reporting for Sinclair Community College, Dayton, Ohio

Dr. Davis Jenkins, Senior Research Associate for the Community College Research Center, will facilitate the second keynote panel comprised of:

  • Dr. Joyce Walsh-Portillo, Associate Vice-President of Academic Affairs for Broward College, Fort Lauderdale
  • Wendi Dew, Assistant Vice-President of Teaching and Learning for Valencia College, Orlando
  • Sabrina Crawford, Executive Director of Institutional Research and Effectiveness at St. Petersburg College

For more information about the conference, including the full agenda, please visit the Moving the Needle website.

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St. Petersburg College wins Phoenix Award

Charles Ray, (far left) with PPM Consultants in Orlando, nominated St. Petersburg College for the 2015 EPA Brownfield Phoenix Award. Also pictured, left to right: Jim Waechter, Associate Vice President, Facilities Planning & Institutional Services; Tonjua Williams, Senior Vice President, Student Services; and Midtown Provost Kevin Gordon

St. Petersburg College has been chosen as the 2015 EPA Brownfield Phoenix Award winner. This prestigious award honors the innovative leadership of men and women working to solve the critical environmental problems of transforming abandoned property into productive sites for new economic and community opportunities and assets.

St. Petersburg College was chosen for this award for the development of the new Douglas L. Jamerson, Jr. Midtown Center.

“I could not be more proud to be part of the college’s work in the revitalization of the Midtown community,” said Jim Waechter, Associate Vice President, Facilities Planning & Institutional Services. Every construction project that we endeavor is rewarding, but this project is particularly so because of the significant tangible effect that it will produce in our community for generations to come.”

“What an honor it is for the college to be recognized for its efforts to breathe some life back into an important stretch of 22nd Street in Midtown,” said Tonjua Williams, Senior Vice President, Student Services. “We’re proud to be part of the educational and economic revitalization of this historic area of St. Petersburg.”

The new center includes graphic art installations that tell the story of the rich history of Midtown, and 22nd Street – affectionately nicknamed “The Deuces.” At the recent grand opening of the new center, community members walked the halls and shared their memories of eating at Geech’s BBQ, working at the old Mercy Hospital, and dancing nights away at the old Manhattan Casino. Classes began this fall in the new, 49,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art college campus, located in St. Petersburg’s historic Midtown neighborhood.

“Our enrollment is already up by 50% over last fall, which illustrates the strong desire within the community for increased educational opportunities,” said SPC Midtown Provost Kevin Gordon. “We are also thrilled by the number of community members who are utilizing the services provided at the Midtown Center.”

St. Petersburg College has long been dedicated to providing educational opportunities in Midtown. The original 10,000-square-foot Midtown Center at 1048 22nd St. S., opened in 2003 as part of a $2 million St. Petersburg Housing Authority’s HOPE VI project.

In 2012, as demand for classes and community involvement grew, SPC’s Board of Trustees approved a $14 million expenditure to build the new three-story building on land leased from the City of St. Petersburg. The new center includes multiple classrooms, two science labs, three computer labs, a book store, a community room and a career center.

The award was presented to the college at the National Brownfields Training Conference, Sept. 2-4 in Chicago. The conference is the largest training and networking event in the nation focused on economic redevelopment and sustainability.

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Achieving the DreamAchieving the Dream today announced St. Petersburg College (SPC) earned Leader College distinction – a national designation awarded to community colleges that commit to improving student success and closing achievement gaps. St. Petersburg College has shown how data can inform policy and practice to help community college students achieve their goals, resulting in improved skills, better employability, and economic growth for families, communities, and the nation as a whole. SPC was the only college in Florida selected to receive the designation this year.

“It is a wonderful honor for St. Petersburg College to be selected by Achieving the Dream as a Leader College,” said St. Petersburg College President Bill Law. “The commitment – and success – that we have seen on behalf of our students reflects the real excellence of our faculty and staff. Making sure that all students can achieve their academic goals is our commitment.  When accomplishments such as ours are recognized, everyone feels good.”

The college was recognized for its efforts to narrow achievement gaps and improve student success rates. From Fall 2011 to Fall 2013, SPC saw course success rates (identified as an A, B or C grade) for First-Time-In-College (FTIC) African American students in all enrolled courses increase by 8 percentage points, while Hispanic students increased 9.1 percentage points. Additionally, St. Petersburg College saw increases in student persistence rates, particularly among minority FTIC students.

The college attributes those increases to its “College Experience,” a collegewide initiative comprised of five core student support measures: new student orientation; integrated academic and career advising; student learning plans; early alerts and student coaching system; and out of classroom supports. The initiative is bolstered through SPC’s business intelligence system, “Pulse BI,” and its robust dashboards. “Pulse BI,” which was designed in-house, allows faculty, staff and college leaders to monitor student data in real-time to make evidence-based decisions.

“Becoming a Leader College is very powerful and affirms the exceptional work and commitment of faculty and staff to their students’ success,” said Achieving the Dream Vice President for Community College Relations Cindy Lenhart. “St. Petersburg College is using evidence to make informed decisions that lead to significant institutional change.”

The 2015 Achieving the Dream Leader Colleges are:


Bakersfield College

(Bakersfield, CA)

Kingsborough Community College

(Brooklyn, NY)

Bellingham Technical College

(Bellingham, WA)

Lorain County Community College

(Elyria, OH)

Century College

(White Bear Lake, MN)

Muskegon Community College

(Muskegon, MI)

College of Southern Nevada

(North Las Vegas, NV)

North Lake College

(Irving, TX)

Columbus State Community College

(Columbus, OH)

Paris Junior College

(Paris, TX)

Cumberland County College

(Vineland, NJ)

Southwestern Oregon Community College

(Coos Bay, OR)

Delta College

(University Center, MI)

St. Clair County Community College

(Port Huron, MI)

Gaston College

(Dallas, NC)

St. Petersburg College

(St. Petersburg, FL)

Grand Rapids Community College
(Grand Rapids, MI)
West Los Angeles College

(Culver City, CA)

Jefferson Community & Technical College (Louisville, KY)

The 2015 Leader Colleges are making strides in the national movement to increase student completion and close achievement gaps, demonstrating the power of the Achieving the Dream Approach. With the guidance of Achieving the Dream Coaches, colleges not only systemically change the way they operate, but also implement key student supports that align with their overall policies and institutional systems, such as college readiness programs, mandatory new student orientation, student-success courses, developmental course redesign, curriculum redesign, and intensive, individualized advising.

Achieving the Dream grants Leader College designation for three-year cycles. After three years, institutions must undergo a recertification process to maintain Leader College status.

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SPC’s Veterans Services received a nearly perfect review in their annual federal audit of GI Bill Processing and Certification records. In fact, Florida’s Department of Veterans Affairs was so impressed with the school, they would like SPC’s Veterans Services staff to assist other colleges around the state in preparing for future audits. SPC will share their processes, organization, record keeping and layout of SPC’s Veterans Student Centers with other schools.

“The bottom line: Our Centralized Certification and Processing is working as we hoped it would, again keeping the number of discrepancies or errors to a bare minimum while ensuring a 99.4% error-free certification rate,” said Veterans Services Director Jeff Cavanagh.

Audit results indicate that all areas of Post 911 GI Bill certification and compliance were covered with three minor area discrepancies being noted. Among other results, auditors found:

  • SPC’s record keeping was among the best in the state
  • VA officials wished that all compliance audits could go as smoothly as SPC’s
  • All “discrepancies” were minor and corrected on the spot
  • SPC’s Veterans Services staff was noted as being exceptionally knowledgeable as were their work-study students

During the 2014-15 academic year, SPC served a total of 1,966 Veteran students.

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