Santa Fe College president happy with school's direction

Cutbacks remain a high priority, but there are no plans to release employees because of the economy.

Santa Fe College President Jackson Sasser addresses faculty and staff during the spring convocation on Monday.

Aaron E. Daye/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Tuesday, January 5, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 4, 2010 at 10:53 p.m.

When spring classes open this morning at Santa Fe College, more than 17,000 students are expected to take their seats in the 2,850 classes being offered.

It's an enrollment level Santa Fe College President Jackson Sasser said Monday likely is attributed to the lagging economy and unemployment prompting many to return to school to train in other fields.

During Monday's spring convocation, Sasser told many of the college's 800 faculty members and staff that the state of the college is good heading into the new semester and new decade.

"We are in good shape," he said. "And this is the result of work we started three years ago, but we are not out of the woods."

A high priority, said Sasser, remains finding ways to cut back without layoffs.

"My goal remains not to release employees for economic reasons, but we will remain diligent in our efforts to consolidate in other areas where we can," Sasser said.

Following the address to employees, he said attention already is being focused on the next budget year and that discussions with the state legislative delegation are under way.

"The Legislature has to provide funding for the colleges around the state to operate in this next session," Sasser said.

He added that keeping tuition low and affordable to students is also an area of focus "so it's not a barrier to admission." Current tuition for lower-division classes is $84.60 per credit hour in-state and $98.45 per credit hour for upper-division classes.

The semester also will include a visit from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the regional accrediting agency, to review progress of the college's new bachelor programs in Health Services Administration and Clinical Laboratory Science.

The college also will begin work on creating a Quality Enhancement Plan, which SACS requires, to look ahead and begin planning for the college's future.

Ed Bonahue, SFC interim provost and vice president of academic affairs, said this review will be a good warm-up ahead of the college's full review scheduled for 2012.

And for now, Bonahue will continue as interim provost with Sasser announcing that the search process will not begin until fall 2010 for a permanent provost.

Evelyn Womack, chairwoman of the SFC Board of Trustees, took time on Monday to commend faculty and staff for embracing change before they had to - <0x000A>educationally and financially.

"It's paid off in every area as we start a new decade on firmer ground than most colleges," she said.

Sasser highlighted several ongoing projects such as construction of the $17.2 million Fine Arts Building expected to open in 2011 and discussions to dedicate space in the student center for use by the University of Florida for recruiting efforts.

"You will soon see some type of Gator structure on our campus," he said.

In keeping with his theme of alignment with the community, Sasser also highlighted the possibility of creating a sustainability institute to incorporate the variety of green industry-related programs at the college.

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