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Welcome back!

Submitted by on August 18, 2009 – 11:16 pmNo Comment

Dr.-Norman-Stephens-wideDear Colleagues,

That noise you hear is me knocking on wood! I think we have something really really good going on around here. A few days ago I received a very nice note from one of our colleagues, an employee who has been with us just one year. The message was all about the strong spirit of cooperation and teamwork she has experienced at our college. It was wonderful that this employee took the time and effort to let me know of her impressions and about all the support she had received while organizing a grant funded summer enrichment program.  But her message to me was not a singular event. Her note only brought to mind the many other indicators I see and hear that the faculty and staff of our college have bonded into a truly positive and productive group of caring human beings. Each year as I read the many nominations for the President’s Awards, I’m reminded of the thoughtfulness of the authors of those nominations, and of the obvious excellence and heartwarming dedication demonstrated by the nominees. In spite of all the external pressures and excuses to be depressed or just plain flabbergasted, we’ve somehow managed to rise above that and we’re functioning very well indeed “Enriching our communities through education . . . one life at a time.” Please accept my most sincere thanks to all of you for what you do for each other, and most importantly, for our students.

And speaking of students, we’ve got lots of them! Summer enrollment increased about 10 percent over the previous summer, and the early signs lead us to believe that the fall term will have similar growth. This is good for a couple of reasons. It means more and more students are realizing and appreciating the great value in pursuing their higher education at SFCC, and it also helps our budget. On that note, we’re seeing signs that the economy may have reached the bottom and is finally turning around. We’re not out of the woods, but I think we’re seeing a clearing along the path ahead. We finished FY 2009 in good shape with an appropriate fund balance that will allow us to sustain further mid-year revenue reductions like we’ve experienced in the past two years, if they should come. Early reports out of Tallahassee indicate we may not have to endure such reductions this year. If that is so, then we may be out of the woods in FY 2010 and beyond. Let’s hope so!

We have a new Five-Year Strategic Plan approved by the SFCC District Board of Trustees in June. Please take a moment to review this plan on the SFCC web site. Our SFCC Strategic Planning Task Force has worked hard over the summer filling in the details and identifying priorities as we strive to fulfill the promise of this plan and to accomplish our College Mission. During the coming weeks, there will be opportunities for everyone to become familiar with our plan, and in particular, our four framework goals: 1) to identify and meet community educational needs; 2) to enable all students to succeed; 3) to enable all employees to succeed; and 4) to ensure Institutional Effectiveness.

The Lake Placid Center has had a significant makeover, but we’re not done yet. When you’re in the neighborhood, drop by and allow Randy and the staff to share some of their pride about their newly renovated facility. We have an elevator and a science lab, and the one leads to the other. The old Band Room is now a state-of-the-art classroom. Even the restrooms are much improved. We’re still working on upgrading the windows and some of the spaces that were not included in the state funded project that we just completed.

The SFCC Auditorium has always been a special place, but the changes taking place will take your breath away. As it reopens next March, we’re going to begin calling it the Theatre for the Performing Arts to give it a more classy name reflecting its very classy new look. The renovation work is progressing nicely, on schedule and within budget—still knocking on wood. If you haven’t purchased season tickets for the Artist Series, you may want to do that as soon as possible.

With this issue of Panther Tales we’re converting to a Web-based publication, partly to save money, but also to increase access and responsiveness. It will be a constantly changing resource of information about the college for college employees—past, present, and future. This is a big change, and to some extent, an experiment. Your comments and suggestions for improving this information source are encouraged and appreciated.

As you have in the past, please continue to support the SFCC Foundation which assists our students as they pursue their education. We certainly are sensitive to the financial pressures that everyone is feeling, but I encourage you to consider a generous donation to this important support organization. This is also the time of year when we begin our annual United Way Campaign, and I know you will continue your generous support. Your participation in FACC is also important. This organization represents SFCC and all of the Florida College System. SFCC has the very best chapter of FACC—thanks to you!

 Welcome back!


Norm Stephens

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