Archive for the ‘Tom Furlong’ Category

     As most sectors of the state’s economy have throttled back, St. Petersburg College and many of Florida’s other community colleges have roared ahead, adding new programs and welcoming hundreds of additional students, many of whom had been turned away from other state institutions. 

     “Rather than shrink from the challenges that faced us, we decided to take an opposite approach and provide additional students with the programs and training they need to get good jobs and be part of the inevitable recovery,” said Tom Furlong, SPC’s Interim President. ” History tells us that community colleges are one of the best sources out there for education that leads directly to jobs. SPC and other similar schools are great values as well as shortcuts to success.” 

     In his State of the Union speech this week, President Barack Obama urged the Senate to pass legislation that will “revitalize our community colleges, which are a career pathway to the children of so many working families.” Read this section from President Obama’s 2010 State of the Union Address.

     Steep economic downturns create great opportunities for community college education, Furlong said. Resources may tighten, but community colleges offer high-quality education for comparatively little money, and graduates often walk right into jobs that offer pay and benefits that far exceed their previous employment. 

     “One reason for this is the close relationships that community colleges tend to have to business leaders in their home areas,” Furlong noted. “If an area needs nurses or bankers or technicians, the local community college usually can turn on a dime, respond to that need, and develop programs that can start serving students almost immediately.”

     Florida’s community colleges served more than 845,000 students in 2009, up 9.6 percent from 2008. Enrollments for 2010 are expected to be even higher. As of this week, St. Petersburg College enrollment for the Spring 2010 term is up 14 percent.

     Community College Week’s annual Top 100 report, conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics, said Florida community colleges were among the top in the nation last year when it came to awarding associate degrees.

     Will N. Holcombe, Chancellor of The Florida College System, said Florida’s community colleges are determined to keep their doors open to students in spite of ever-tightening budgets.

     “Often times, entry into our system is the first opportunity for students to achieve higher education,” he said, “and I’m proud of the work our institutions have done to provide a quality education to a diverse student body during tough economic times.”

     One reason for the expanding role of community colleges is the steep enrollment increase among veterans. A new GI bill provides more than $62 billion in education benefits across the country, and vets with three years of active service can receive full tuition and fees, a monthly housing allowance, and $1,000 a year for books and supplies. The legislation has contributed to a 76 percent increase in veteran enrollment at Florida colleges.

     “Think back to the post-World War II days, when thousands of returning veterans enrolled in colleges across the country and then took the lead in rebuilding the American economy in a way that had never been seen before,” Furlong said. “We have a similar opportunity now, and it is very exciting to consider the role that SPC and other similar institutions can play in that.”

     St. Petersburg College began offering bachelor’s degrees in 2002, initially offering programs in nursing, education and technology management. Today, the college offers 22 bachelor’s programs and adds new ones every year. Among similar schools statewide, 16 new bachelor’s programs were created at seven colleges last year. Another 19 new programs at nine Florida colleges have been proposed for this year.

     “For more and more students of all ages, SPC and other community colleges are where higher education begins, and higher education means better jobs and enhanced income,” Furlong said. “We understand the role that we play in a stronger future economy, and we’re excited about the challenge we face.”

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Bill Frederick
St. Petersburg College

 Tom Furlong named interim president of SPC 

                        ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (Jan. 12, 2010) — Thomas E. Furlong, who retired from SPC in February 2009, became SPC’s Interim President on Jan. 1. Furlong, 62, was Senior Vice President, Baccalaureate Programs and University Partnerships, when he retired.

            “I am honored that the Board of Trustees has entrusted me with this great responsibility at this important moment in the history of St. Petersburg College,” Furlong said.

            “I am very excited to re-join the SPC team as we transition from our long-time president to our new permanent president,” he said. “I am truly delighted to have this opportunity to work with our outstanding students, faculty members and staff during the coming months.”
            Furlong came to SPC in August 2001 to develop the college’s new four-year program and to oversee the University Partnership Center. When he retired in February of 2009, the college had more than 4,000 baccalaureate students, 2,000 baccalaureate graduates and 27 majors.

            Before coming to St. Petersburg College, Furlong was Deputy Executive Director for Educational Services of the Florida Community College System. He was Vice President for Educational Services at Tallahassee Community College from 1987 to 1995, where he served twice as acting president.

            From 1984 to1987 he was executive director of the Florida Postsecondary Education Planning Commission — the PEPC Commission — and worked with the state’s community colleges and its universities. He directed PEPC’s research toward the first State Master Plan for Postsecondary Education and Supplements and was cited by the governor and the Cabinet for having “contributed significantly to the progress of higher education in Florida.”

A psychology major at Philadelphia’s La Salle University in the late 1960s, he holds a master’s in Counselor Education and a Ph.D. in Postsecondary Education Management from Florida State.

A Florida resident since 1969, Furlong is married and has five children.



 St. Petersburg College was founded in 1927 as a two-year institution of higher learning.  Known then as St. Petersburg Junior College, it provided high-quality, fully-accredited programs with credits that were fully transferable to four-year institutions.  In 2001, the Florida Legislature passed legislation allowing the college to offer four-year degrees.  In response, the college dropped the word “junior” from its name and became St. Petersburg College.  Today, St. Petersburg College offers programs at learning sites in St. Petersburg, Seminole, Clearwater, Tarpon Springs and elsewhere.  It also offers courses and degree programs online.

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