Sasser urges SFCC to start new year on positive note


Published: Wednesday, January 5, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 4, 2005 at 11:18 p.m.
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Santa Fe Community College President Jackson Sasser speaks to faculty and staff Tuesday.

DOUG FINGER/The Gainesville Sun
After a trying fall semester, the president of Santa Fe Community College asked employees to begin the new year in high spirits during a collegewide assembly Tuesday.
"We must start this semester by acknowledging the pain of the last one," said Sasser, beginning his fourth year as SFCC's leader. "It was definitely the toughest semester of my career."
Sasser recapped the tumult of the fall semester - hurricanes, a campus killing and an aborted move to reorganize the academic division - and said he looked forward to better year ahead.
"Let's begin this year with a lot of enthusiasm," he told about 300 faculty and staff members gathered in the northwest Gainesville campus gymnasium.
In fall semester, an SFCC employee was stabbed to death in her office.
Also the college was forced to miss teaching time because of hurricanes that hit the state.
But Sasser said he was excited that the community college continues to grow in students and offer higher education to more individuals.
"We are totally committed to access," Sasser said. "That's what the centers are all about."
Sasser was referring to SFCC's satellite campuses, known as centers, that the college has opened to reach more students.
Today, a new satellite campus in Keystone Heights will open to students for the first time. The college recently opened a new center in Archer and plans to open a new center in Alachua in 2007. SFCC also has a satellite campus in Starke and downtown Gainesville.
The college's plans to expand the downtown campus hit a snag in November when neighborhood residents complained they had not been informed about the project and worried about its impact on the area.
City Commissioner Chuck Chestnut attended the Tuesday assembly to praise SFCC's recent pledge to ask for more input from neighborhood leaders and residents during its expansion project.
Also in the fall, outcry from faculty leaders forced SFCC's new chief of academic affairs to postpone planned personnel moves.
Tuesday, Sasser said the plans "were presented too soon."
He said SFCC Vice President Nancee Bailey has been collecting feedback and will announce changes that he expects will be better received later this month.
Tuesday's assembly, called a convocation, also included awards and performances and followed department meetings to prepare for today's start to the spring semester.
Douane D. James can be reached at 374-5087 or jamesd@gvillesun.com.

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