St. Petersburg College (SPC) is pleased to announce a partnership with Community Foundation of Tampa Bay (CFTB), an organization focused on connecting donors, nonprofit organizations and community leaders in an effort to make Tampa Bay a better place to live. Through this partnership, SPC was awarded a $15,000 grant to expand its mental health awareness efforts on campus.

This funding will allow SPC Faculty and Staff to undergo training that will help them identify and support students with mental health issues. In addition, each SPC campus will have a designated mental health awareness ally who will serve as a liaison between students and campus and community mental health resources.

Community Foundation of Tampa Bay

“Our students come to SPC with challenges beyond the classroom experience,” said SPC President Tonjua Williams. “To help them be successful, we’re committed to being a student-ready college by expanding our social support resources for mental health. We’re excited about our partnership with Community Foundation of Tampa Bay.”

“We are very excited to partner with St. Petersburg College,” says Marlene Spalten, President and CEO of the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay. “St. Petersburg College has made an incredibly positive impact in the community and we are honored to continue to support their efforts.”

The Community Foundation of Tampa Bay connects donors with nonprofit organizations and community leaders to create a meaningful impact in the Tampa Bay region and beyond. In 2015, donors with the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay provided over $12 million in grants to causes and organizations within the community.

St. Petersburg College joins LEAP Tampa Bay College Access Network, previously known as the LEAP Hillsborough College Access Network. This organization is a cross-sector network of regional partners who work together to promote their community-wide commitment to college access and attainment in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, with the goal of ensuring that Tampa Bay has a globally competitive workforce.

(L to R) Marlene Spalten, President & CEO, Community Foundation of Tampa Bay, Dr. Stacy Carlson, President, Pinellas Education Foundation, Charles Hokanson, Vice President, Helios Education Foundation, Laurie Meggesin, Executive Director, Florida College Access Network, Dr. Martin Tadlock, Interim Regional Chancellor, University of South Florida – St. Petersburg, Dr. Michael Grego, Superintendent, Pinellas County Schools, Dr. Tonjua Williams, President, St. Petersburg College, Bill Goede, Tampa Bay Market President, Bank of America, Bob Rohrlack, President & CEO, Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, Madeline Pumariega, Chancellor, Florida College System

LEAP was founded by a collaboration of 12 Hillsborough County organizations. The network has expanded to Pinellas County, which now includes St. Petersburg College, Pinellas County government, Pinellas Education Foundation, Pinellas County Schools and the University of South Florida – St. Petersburg.

“LEAP is the pathway for Pinellas and Hillsborough residents to prosperity,” said SPC President Tonjua Williams. “This collaborative initiative equips the region to be a thriving workforce and to move the economy forward.”

LEAP leadership uses a collective impact model of collaboration to guide coordinated strategies by partners, all geared at increasing attainment of high-quality college degrees and credentials. LEAP’s overall vision aligns with the state’s “Rise to 55” goal for all of Florida, and the national “GOAL 2025” movement, which seeks to have 60 percent of working-age adults holding such credentials and degrees by 2025.

“Our region’s economy is not exclusive to one county, and we have to address major issues like building a talent pipeline to meet our workforce needs on a regional basis,” said Marlene Spalten, President and CEO of the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay, the network’s backbone partner. “Increasing college attainment is vital to this cause, so growing the college access network to include Pinellas County was a natural evolution for LEAP.”

Since launching two years ago, LEAP has made significant strides in breaking down a major barrier to college attainment: financial aid.

Last year, LEAP supported Hillsborough County Public Schools in conquering the Florida FAFSA Challenge, an initiative which strives to boost the proportion of high school seniors completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid by at least five percent over the last school year. The increase in FAFSA completion meant an estimated $3 million more in Pell grants was available in Hillsborough County compared to the prior year.

The Community Foundation of Tampa Bay also announced last year the commitment of up to $2.5 million by Helios Education Foundation and USAmeriBank Foundation to establish a scholarship fund for the FUSE program, one of LEAP’s four strategic pillars. FUSE provides students a guaranteed pathway to a bachelor’s degree at the University of South Florida as they earn their associate degrees.

(L-R) Willy Ormond (Lockheed), Jackie Skryd (SPC), Andre Trotter (Lockheed), Cissy Proctor (DEO), Lara Sharp (SPC), Amy Snyder (BAMA), Natavia Middleton (SPC)

St. Petersburg College (SPC) will work alongside top Tampa Bay manufacturers to launch an innovative workforce training program that is modeled after a premier automotive industry-education collaboration.

Under this new program, participants will receive paid training to become mechatronics and electromechanical technicians. This emerging, high-demand field, involves the synergistic application of mechanical, electrical, and automation skills.

Cissy Proctor, executive director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, visited the college last week to formally award SPC with a $1.6 million grant from the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund. The grant is part of an $85 million initiative by Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity to improve public infrastructure and enhance workforce training in order to promote economic development.

Altogether, projects awarded under the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund are anticipated to create more than 18,600 jobs in the Sunshine State.

“The new Mechatronics and Electromechancial Technician Training Program stood out as a program sure to provide transferable, sustainable workforce skills to those who participate,” said Proctor. “We look forward to the opportunities this funding will bring to the families in the St. Petersburg area.”

The college worked with a number of employers, including aerospace and defense global leader, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, and international beverage manufacturer and distributor, Monin, to design the program. This industry-led, competency-based curriculum, will ensure participants receive quality training that will help them succeed in a number of high-demand advanced manufacturing positions.

Representatives from Lockheed Martin Aeronautics attended last week’s event on campus, noting the growing demand for skilled advanced manufacturing technicians to advance operations and automation.

“As a result of an expansion at our Pinellas Park facility in particular, we are realizing a need for 80 to 100 technicians to support assembly and fabrication over the next 12-18 months as we move towards peak production over the next several years,” said André F. Trotter, program director and general manager at Lockheed Martin’s Aeronautics Pinellas Park location. “This is exactly the type of educational partnership that allows us to enhance our skilled workforce.”

“We are excited to have a dynamic group of industry and educational partners collaborate on this high-impact workforce training program that will drive our local and state economies and strengthen our community,” added SPC President, Tonjua Williams.

SPC’s Mechatronics and Electromechancial Technician training program is modeled after the Automotive Manufacturing Training Education Collaborative (AMTEC), a premier automotive industry-education collaboration. AMTEC, a National Science Foundation Advanced Technical Education Center, is strongly considered the leader in online, modularized curriculum and industry engagement for automation training. It counts Ford, General Motors and Toyota as content leaders and boasts 55 active college partners that deliver the training. Fifty international companies utilize the training for its competency-based approach to tailor and accelerate learning, adding companies like Boeing and Amazon in recent years.  The growth of new industry partners highlights the demand for new skill development in automation by advanced manufacturers in general. SPC will be the first in Florida to deliver this type of training.

The college anticipates training about 300 people over the two-year grant period. During this time participants can receive paid training.

The program will kick off June 1. Additional details will be available soon at http://www.spcollege.edu/future-students/degrees-training/engineering-manufacturing-and-building-arts.

St. Petersburg College (SPC) will host the Presidential Investiture of Dr. Tonjua Williams at 10 a.m. on Friday, April 6 at The Palladium at St. Petersburg College, 253 5th Ave. N., St. Petersburg.

An investiture is a traditional ceremony that marks the transference of authority in a high office and is typically held within the first year of service in office. The ceremony holds a historical purpose, as it ushers in a new era at St. Petersburg College by officially welcoming SPC President Tonjua Williams, Ph.D., to the helm of the college. It is also an opportunity for the community and the college to celebrate together.

The ceremony will include an academic procession of St. Petersburg College faculty and staff, with marchers wearing their academic regalia. The ceremony will also include musical performances by SPC students and remarks from honored guests.

Speakers include The Florida College System Chancellor Madeline Pumariega; Pinellas County Schools Superintendent Michael A. Grego; Florida State Sen. Darryl Rouson; St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman; Florida A&M University President Larry Robinson; and Palm Beach State College President Ava L. Parker.

On July 3, 2017, Williams became St. Petersburg College’s seventh president, making history as the first woman and African American to lead the College.  Williams began her tenure with the college in 1986 serving in various roles: Senior Vice President of Student Services, Provost, Associate Provost, Director of Special Programs, Program Coordinator, Academic Advisor, Recruiter, Senior Accounting Clerk and Adjunct Faculty.

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 bachelor’s degrees in Business Administration and Humanities from Clearwater Christian College.

For more information, visit the Investiture website.

No college funds are being used for the Investiture Ceremony, or any related activities. The Investiture has been funded entirely by donors and sponsors.


Dr. Tonjua WilliamsSt. Petersburg College President Tonjua Williams was named one of the top 25 women in higher education by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education. In honor of Women’s History Month, Diverse highlighted women who have made a difference in society by tackling some of higher education’s toughest challenges, exhibiting extraordinary leadership skills and making a difference in their respective communities.

“It is an honor to be recognized,” said SPC President Tonjua Williams. “However, I stand on the shoulders of great leaders who have invested in me over the years and inspired me to grow.”

Williams is the seventh president of St. Petersburg College and has held various positions throughout her 30 plus years of experience in higher education. Williams is recognized nationally as an expert in student development and executing plans that transform departments and institutions.

Williams holds a Ph.D. in higher education administration from Barry University, with a specialization in educational leadership. She has participated in several leadership programs: State of Florida Chancellor’s Leadership Program, Leadership St. Petersburg, University of Florida’s Executive Leadership Program and the American Association of Community College’s Thomas Lakin Leadership Program. Williams was recently selected as one of 40 leaders in the inaugural class of the Aspen Presidential Fellowship, a year-long program designed to prepare leaders aspiring to be community college presidents.

Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos and Clearwater Provost Stan Vittetoe at library groundbreakingSt. Petersburg College and the City of Clearwater will celebrate the grand opening of the new Clearwater East Community Library at 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 21at SPC Clearwater Campus, 2465 Drew St.

The new library is a joint partnership with City of Clearwater and is located on the SPC Clearwater Campus.

The public is invited to join city of Clearwater Mayor George N. Cretekos, SPC Clearwater Provost Stan Vittetoe, members of the City Council, City Manager Bill Horne, and Clearwater Public Library System Director Jennifer Obermaier at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

After the ceremony, there will be an open house and refreshments will be served.

The 40,000-square-foot library includes 10,000-square-feet of dedicated public space, 15,000-square-feet of dedicated college space and 15,000-square-feet of shared space.

Highlights of the new building include more than 90,000 electronic and print books and audio-visual materials covering a variety of disciplines and subjects; more than 100 print journals and magazines of general and academic interest; streaming videos, audiobooks, images, citation tools and music; thousands of online research databases; group and individual meeting areas; computers, scanners, printers, photocopiers and wifi; a dedicated program room and a children’s section; and a drive-through for item return and pickup.

The $15 million project was cooperatively funded by St. Petersburg College and the city of Clearwater. To learn more, visit spcollege.edu.

Come and experience the 2018 Gulf Coast Maker & Comic Con from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 24 at St. Petersburg College’s Seminole Campus, 9200 113th St.

This event is a partnership with the Eureka Factory, Foundation for Community Driven Innovation and St. Petersburg College. They’ve joined forces to bring together two great events – Gulf Coast MakerCon and Pinellas Comic & Maker Con.

The event is free and open to the public, with exciting activities planned for people of all ages and interests.

This experience showcases and supports the innovative and entrepreneurial efforts of area makers across a wide range of fields including: mechanical, electrical, communications, transportation, hardware and software development, heritage crafts and trades, arts, music, gaming, modeling and simulation and STEM initiatives, as well as the art of cosplay, comics, anime, and sci-fi.

There will plenty to see and do, including:

  • Exhibition Drone Races
  • Electrathon Car Races
  • Inventors & Entrepreneurs Showcase
  • Makers Market Vendors
  • Young Makers Village
  • Workshops & Demos
  • Deconstruction Zone
  • Gaming Expo
  • Heritage Makers (blacksmiths, weavers, woodworkers)
  • Music Makers
  • Transportation Exhibits
  • Garden Tech & Sustainability
  • 21st Century Tech
  • Robotics and Mechatronics
  • Comic exhibits & costume contests

For more information, contact Chad Mairn at mairn.chad@spcollege.edu or 727-394-6917 or Theresa Willingham at Terri@FFCDI.org or 727-394-6917. Learn more at gulfcoastmakers.com