Board Report: Oct. 21

(Bradenton, Fla., October 21, 2009) - State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota (SCF) District Board of Trustees heard a presentation on the progress of the Florida College System (FCS) at the board's regularly scheduled meeting Oct. 21.

Citing data in a new report from the FCS Chancellor, SCF President Dr. Lars A. Hafner noted that the 28 community and state colleges in the Florida College System have quickly and successfully responded to the needs of Florida's workforce through open access, quality, affordable education. Just more than half of Florida's high school graduates enroll in FCS institutions, the choice of about 80 percent of minority students.

Students who graduate from the system yield great benefits of obtaining the skills necessary to thrive in a highly competitive workforce.

"The data shows that the Legislature's actions in creating workforce baccalaureate degrees and the Florida College System are working to offset these bad economic times," said Hafner.

State funding for the FCS has continued to diminish as enrollment has soared. FCS receives 17.7 percent of state funding for higher education, supporting an enrollment of 831,165 students and 44,350 employees. The State University System is allocated 53.7 percent of higher education funding for an enrollment of 302, 513 and 61,178 employees.

"It's indicative of what we do as a system. We should all be very proud of what we do as an institution on a shoestring budget to provide sound, quality education so students can enter the workforce and fuel the local economy," Hafner said.

Highlights from the FCS report include:

  • The state-mandated two-plus-two program continues to be strong with half of the State University System upper division students transferring from a Florida College System institution.
  • In 2008-09, FCS baccalaureate programs graduated 1, 024 students with degrees in education, nursing and other workforce professions, with more than 90 percent successfully landing jobs in their fields.
  • Almost 42 percent of students returning to college to earn workforce baccalaureate degrees are 35 and older compared to 24 percent in that age bracket enrolled in associate degree level courses, demonstrating that baccalaureate degree-seeking students tend to be returning for retraining or advancement in their current careers, Hafner said.
  • Nursing programs in the FCS have flourished, awarding 67 percent of all nursing degrees in Florida in 2006-07. Since the FCS began offering workforce baccalaureate degrees in 2003-04, more than 500 students have graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) degree.

SCF is on track to begin its new B.S.N. program in January with the first cohort of 50 students, reported Dr. Bonnie Hesselberg, SCF Lakewood Ranch provost and dean of nursing. Student success at the associate level and demand for nurses in the community has generated strong demand for SCF's B.S.N., drawing more than 150 applications to date.

Hesselberg also reported that May graduates of SCF's associate in science nursing program excelled on the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) with a 93.4 percent passage rate, well above the national average of 88.91 percent.

In other action, the board honored the late Jack Meyerhoff and his wife, Margie, by naming room 856 in the Sarah H. Pappas Professional Development Center the Jack and Margie Meyerhoff Simulation Lab.

Meyerhoff, who passed away in September, was recognized as co-founder of the Venice campus and known for trumpeting the College's local, accessible and affordable educational offerings. Meyerhoff helped raise funds to establish the College's first endowed chairs, setting a record for the largest gift ever donated to the college-$6 million when matched with state funds.

"Jack was never looking for attention and he was a behind-the-scenes kind of guy that wanted to get things done," SCF Board Chair Steve Harner said. "He always recognized that education was an important asset to the community and that this College filled that role admirably."

Meyerhoff had a long history of supporting this College and really helped open doors in the community, said SCF Foundation Executive Director Peg Lowery.

In other board action, the board approved:

  • The sale of property for construction easement rights and temporary easement to the West Villages Special District for a road widening project on U.S. 41 fronting SCF Venice.
  • A change in the nursing entrance exam fee to $50, effective Oct. 2009, for the new Test of Essential Academic Skills.

The board recognized the following:

  • Dr. Bonnie Hesselberg, SCF Lakewood Ranch provost and dean of nursing, was named among Great 100 Nurses by the Florida Nurses Association (FNA). Nominated by her peers, she was honored for her excellence in nursing practice at the 2009 FNA Great 100 Nurses Centennial Celebration held in September in St. Petersburg Beach. A nurse and educator for the past 30 years, Hesselberg helped SCF secure funding to expand a successful Associate in Science nursing program, develop a new Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program and design the new Medical Technology and Simulation Center. She recently was named a member of the Advisory Panel for Simulation Technology and Nursing in Florida representing the Florida Council of Nursing Education Administrators.
  • Linda Baxter was honored with the Small Business Development Center Network(SBDC) Regional Employee of the Year Award. Baxter, a staff assistant for SCF's SBDC, was one of seven employees from SBDCs throughout Florida honored for her client service and support of small businesses and entrepreneurs at the 29th Annual National Association of Small Business Development Center Networks conference held in Orlando in September.  The College's SBDC serves as a hub for specialized education and information services for new and existing businesses in Sarasota and Manatee counties. Last year, the SBDC at SCF conducted 86 seminars, counseled 484 clients, assisted in starting 10 businesses, assisted with a capital infusion of $1.46 million in Small Business Association loans and partnered with area organizations to coordinate outreach activities.

The next board meeting is scheduled for 8:30 a.m., Monday, Nov. 16, at SCF Bradenton.

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