Board Report: Dec. 16

(Bradenton, Fla., Dec. 16, 2009) — The District Board of Trustees of State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota (SCF) cast an eye toward the future at the last meeting of the decade held Wednesday, Dec. 16, at SCF Bradenton.

In an informational workshop prior to the board’s regular meeting, SCF trustees heard a presentation by Peter Bartolotta, representing Vision North Port, inviting SCF to participate as the educational leader with the city of North Port in the SCF/North Port Workforce Development Initiative. Vision North Port is a citizen-driven, nonprofit organization created to develop a citizen master plan for North Port.

One feature of the concept presented to the SCF board calls for SCF to participate in establishing and operating an Entrepreneur Academy and Business Development Center at a facility on Toledo Blade Boulevard near I-75. Workforce courses could include providing workers with updated skills to compete for “green jobs” in renewable energy and building energy technology. Educational opportunities could lead to certificates, Associate in Science programs, and a new proposed Bachelor in Applied Science in Energy Technology. Programs also would be offered to assist start-up businesses and encourage them to stay in North Port.

Another key feature of the initiative was noted by Bartolotta, who said he was encouraged by the recent consensus of the North Port City Commission to designate to the college 15 acres of land near SCF Venice campus.

“The additional land will allow SCF to develop a sustainability living laboratory on our Venice campus and give us room to grow SCF’s programs and outreach to the community,” Hafner said, noting that enrollment at SCF Venice reached a high of 3, 400 students this fall and is growing by double digit percentages with much of the increase coming from North Port.

“This project fits with plans for SCF Venice, and we view this environmentally sensitive campus as a strategic leader in the area of environmental education,” said SCF Vice President for Academic Quality and Success Dr. Jack Crocker.

The additional land gives SCF the opportunity to provide the latest sustainable and environmental technology education in a showcase of living design and products, including classrooms for students and demonstration areas for vendors, builders, interior designers and contractors, local homeowners and even tourists.

“North Port is becoming a major economic engine, and this partnership between the city, the college and Vision North Port will help put North Port on the map,” Bartolotta said.

The proposed plans for economic development in North Port were received positively and with keen interest by SCF board members. Trustee Christine Robinson from Venice expressed a desire to move quickly to involve more key players in the discussion.

“Now we can reach out and start bringing people to the table,” she said.

Board Chairman Steve Harner also expressed appreciation for the information. “We’re glad we had the opportunity to hear about this,” he said. “This helps us ensure we are moving forward in the most prudent and tax-effective manner for our constituents.”

Hafner said the college will move forward on the workforce development initiative based on the Board’s positive response to the direction outlined in the workshop.

In the board’s regular meeting, Dr. Carol Probstfeld, vice president of business and administrative services, introduced Barry Wolfson, president of Barry Wolfson LLC, who described the process for updating the College’s strategic plan.

Developing SCF’s strategic plan will involve articulating the vision to its many stakeholders, monitoring implementation and gauging the strategic plan’s success.

“Success is about being different. It’s not about being the same. It’s delivering value in a way that others can’t,” Wolfson said.

SCF President Dr. Lars A. Hafner also updated the board on plans for SCF’s collegiate school, which is expected to be the first in the nation to host a charter middle school on a college campus at the projected opening in fall 2010.

Based on recommendations from former Gov. Jeb Bush, Hafner recently attended a meeting to explore an SCF partnership with Kunskapsskolan, a highly regarded Swedish school that offers a unique student-centered education.

Representatives from Kunskapsskolan made a recent visit to the United States to meet with only two schools, SCF and New York City schools. Discussions included an opportunity for future SCF Collegiate School students to interact with students in Sweden and London, where Kunskappskolan’s educational concepts are being implemented.

In board action, the board approved a monthly financial report, acceptance of funds for the Pell Grant Program and Spring 2010 Corporate & Community Development noncredit courses.

The board also recognized Denise Steverson, SCF’s marketing production coordinator, for being named Florida Association of Community Colleges (FACC) Region IV Unsung Hero at the FACC Conference held in Orlando in November. As SCF’s FACC chapter event coordinator, Steverson launched new activities including a “Day with the Rays,” the holiday costume party and a fundraiser luncheon for student scholarships hosted by Board Chairman Steve Harner at his restaurant, The Crow’s Nest in Venice, Fla.

Closing comments included:

• Hafner reminded trustees that Friday, Dec. 18, would be the first commencement held under the banner of State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota.

• The SCF Basketball team, at 9-2, has its most successful record in a long time at this point in the season and is ranked seventh in a coaches’ poll.

• Hafner has agreed to chair board of the local chapter of the American Heart Association.

• A nationally known expert regarded as the “guru of eLearning” will visit SCF in January to discuss setting up an infrastructure of success.

• The announcement about SCF’s new women’s tennis coach, Betsy Nagelsen McCormack, is running on national sports online and other media.

• Board Chair Harner encouraged members to keep the SCF Foundation in mind for year-end giving and thanked trustee Beverly Beall for her service on the Foundation board.

The next board meeting is scheduled at 8: 30 a.m., Wednesday, Jan. 20, at SCF Bradenton. A board workshop will be held prior to the meeting at 8 a.m.

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