St. Petersburg College will host a dedication ceremony to celebrate the new Bay Pines STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Center beginning at 2 p.m. Wednesday, June 28, at the center at 4723 Bay Pines Terrace, St. Petersburg.

The new 7,600-square-foot, state-of-the-art center will serve as a community resource to increase awareness of STEM-related subjects and issues. The center will open for classes for the Fall 2017 term, which begins Aug. 14.

At the ceremony, the science labs will be named in honor of the late Dr. John M. Chapin, the former Dean of natural science. Chapin was the founding science faculty member on the Tarpon Springs Campus in the late 1970s. Chapin, who retired Sept. 30, 2016, died Feb. 9, 2017.

The dedication ceremony guest speakers will include:

  • Linae Boehme-Terrana, Interim Director of Bay Pines STEM Center
  • Marcia Chapin, Wife of John Chapin
  • State Senator Dennis Jones (FL-D)
  • Kristen Chapin Johnson, Daughter of John Chapin
  • Natavia Middleton, Dean of Natural Science and Engineering
  • Bill Law, President of St. Petersburg College

The Bay Pines STEM Center is a hands-on science learning complex adjacent to the Intracoastal Waterway in Pinellas County with 72 student stations, a community room and science labs. The center’s educational objectives include:

  • Classrooms capable of being subdivided for multiple simultaneous sues and classroom space supported with appropriate science laboratory infrastructure for maximum flexibility.
  • Facilities for student research, both small group projects and some individual projects
  • A multipurpose facility to accommodate as many as 100 people for demonstrations, lectures, conferencing and distance initiatives.
  • Facilities to support small boat docking, saltwater tanks for unloading and cleaning specimens and outdoor/circulation space to support meetings and student interactions.


A Women 2 STEM career exploration kickoff event, aimed at women interested or currently pursuing a college degree that leads to a career in Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math is scheduled for:

Monday, July 10, 5:30-7 p.m.
St. Petersburg College Clearwater Campus, ES-104

Women 2 STEM Summer Kickoff

As women continue to be under-represented in STEM fields, SPC and local STEM professionals are reaching out this summer to inspire, educate, and help women prepare for high-wage, high-demand careers. During this kickoff event, prospective and current SPC students will:

  • Meet and network with SPC STEM faculty, local employers, and mentors
  • Get all the details about this summer’s FREE Women 2 STEM Summer Workshop Series

Take the next step to begin your STEM career and register online today. Get updates via Facebook.

Women 2 STEM Summer Workshop Series

During the kickoff event, you can register to attend the FREE Women 2 STEM Summer Workshop Series where you will meet female mathematicians, scientists, engineers, and technologists and:

  • Experience power-packed, project-based learning activities
  • Explore high-paying, in-demand STEM careers to find your perfect fit
  • Get help with time and finance management
  • Meet mentors who are ready to help you complete your college degree

The Saturday workshops will be held on SPC’s Clearwater Campus, Room ES-104, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on:

  • July 15 – Discover Your Strengths
  • July 22 – Mapping Your Future
  • July 29 – The Path Ahead
  • Aug. 5   – The Start of Your Journey

All of these events are FREE.

Learn more about St. Petersburg College degrees at spcollege.edu/degrees-training.

On June 6, more than 50 dignitaries, faculty, staff, students, family and friends filled the new Women on the Way Center at SPC’s Tarpon Springs Campus, where they shared warm hugs and fond memories of Maria Edmonds, former Associate Provost of the Tarpon Springs Campus, who passed away in January. Edmonds was one of the driving forces behind the WOW program at SPC.

Dr. Linda Hogans welcomed the crowd to the celebration of life.

“A dream, passion and purpose helped move this vision,” Hogans said.

St. Petersburg College launched its Women on the Way program in 1981 as a resource and support center for women who were entering college in larger numbers than ever before in the history of the United States. The goal was to provide women – many of them the first in their families to attend college – with the skills and resources to be successful in an academic setting.

Dr. Bill Law, outgoing SPC President, and Dr. Tonjua Williams, incoming SPC President, shared the podium as they expressed kind words about Edmonds.

“She was always a beacon of bright light,” Law said. She made WOW a home for the students who need it.”

Williams said that her life was forever changed by Edmonds, and remembered her bright spirit.

“Maria would always enter a room with open arms and a hello,” said Williams.

Senator Jack Latvala sent an honorary letter stating, “Ms. Edmonds was an incredible role model for women and a pioneer as a Hispanic and education advocate.”

WOW member Paula Thomas stood with confidence as she remembered being afraid to start college in a new state.

“My support at SPC has been God, my family and WOW,” said Thomas. “Now, I’m a woman of power, passion and purpose.”

Edmonds’ husband, David, shared the Rotary Club’s motto “Serve Above Self” to describe his beloved wife’s commitment to the community, especially to the WOW program, which is now in its 36th year and is available to women at the Clearwater, Seminole, Midtown and Tarpon Springs Campus.

“She always gave 100 percent to everything she did,” said Edmonds. “Her proudest achievement was Women on the Way.”

With overwhelming emotion, Edmonds’ daughter Leza Ries shared a personal letter written by her mother in 1985.

“My only wish,” Edmonds had written, “is that I will be able to leave my grandchildren a legacy of pleasant memories of love and understanding, so, like my own Grandmother, I will never die.”


Not sure if your future is in web development or if you want to pursue your dream to become a digital artist? Learn more about degree options and the career paths they offer at St. Petersburg College’s Career and Academic Communities Fair June 19 – 22.

Whether you’re thinking about attending college or are a current SPC student trying to choose a major, this event offers a chance to explore what’s right for you.

Career and Academic Communities FairTalk with college faculty and staff who are a part of SPC’s Pathways Program. Explore 10 Career and Academic Communities. Find out more about requirements for certain degrees and careers. Follow a map for college success that ensures students take the right courses, in the right order, to meet their academic and career goals.

The event will be held at eight college locations over four days. Faculty and staff from the different communities will be at:

Faculty and staff from the Health Sciences and Veterinary Technology community will be at the Health Education Center and the Veterinary Technology Center on Tuesday, June 20:

All sessions are free and open to the public.

Career and Academic Communities

 The Pathways Program includes these career and academic communities:

Within a community, SPC students have the chance to meet and network with others pursuing similar goals as well as faculty, staff and community members who are experts in their fields.

Take advantage of this great opportunity to learn more about SPC’s Pathways Program and our Career and Academic Communities. Plus meet with students, faculty, and staff who will help support you through your academic journey!

During a special meeting on May 31, the Board of Trustees of St. Petersburg College (SPC) selected Tonjua Williams, Ph.D., as the college’s next President. The board voted unanimously on the selection.

Williams is currently the Sr. Vice President Student Services at St. Petersburg College, a capacity she has served in since 2013.

Williams, SPC’s seventh president, will be the college’s first woman and first African-American to serve as president.

Trustee Deveron Gibbons said it was clear there was an obvious choice for SPC’s next president.

“I came with two names today, but I’m only submitting one: Dr. Tonjua Williams,” he said.

Trustees all agreed Williams was impressive during her interview.

“She didn’t have to sell me on SPC. I was more excited to be part of this institution after hearing her speak about it than I have been in maybe the past few years,” said Trustee Nathan Stonecipher. “She is passionate about St. Petersburg College. That bleeds out of her.”

Williams, a 30-year veteran of SPC, previously served as Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs and Provost of the Tarpon Springs Campus.

Williams earned a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from Barry University, a master’s degree in Counselor Education from University of South Florida, and a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Humanities from Clearwater Christian College.

Bill Law, who has served as SPC President since 2010, announced in Nov. 2016 that he would be retiring at the end of June 2017.

From 51 initial applicants, the college’s Search and Screen Committee voted in March to advance nine semi-finalists in the selection process. In April, the committee reconvened and voted to advance five finalists to the board for consideration.

“The Board members also want to express our gratitude to all of the highly qualified finalists for the time and dedication they have shown throughout this rigorous process,” said Bill Foster, Chair of the SPC Board of Trustees.

Additional information about the search process and all of the finalists can be found on the college’s Presidential Search website.

The Board of Trustees of St. Petersburg College will hold a public meeting to select the new president of St. Petersburg College at 9 a.m. Wednesday, May 31 at the EpiCenter, 13805 58th St. N, Clearwater, Room 1-453.

The meeting will be streamed live here beginning at 9 a.m. Wednesday, May 31.

The finalists, in alphabetical order, are:

  • Frank A. Biafora, Jr., PhD, Dean and Professor, College of Arts and Sciences at University of South Florida St. Petersburg
  • Edward Bonahue, PhD, Provost and VP for Academic Affairs, Santa Fe College, Gainesville
  • James Henningsen, EdD, President, College of Central Florida, Ocala
  • Stan Vittetoe, PhD, Provost, St. Petersburg College, Clearwater
  • Tonjua Williams, PhD, Vice President, Student Services, St. Petersburg College, St. Petersburg

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.”