A Night Honoring Dr. Norman L. Stephens Jr.
Several presentations were given in Dr. Stephens’ honor, including a proclamation by Florida Senator Denise Grimsley, two tributes by Florida Representative Ben Albritton, and a proclamation by City of Avon Park Councilman Parke Sutherland.
“Now I’ve always seen Norm in long pants and shirts, so I don’t know if he has any tattoos on his body anywhere, and frankly I don’t want to find out tonight,” said Randy Hanna, chancellor, Florida College System. “But Norm lives his life and job as if the college mission is tattooed on his body. He believes every student should have access to higher education. Norm is a strong advocate, but a fair advocate.”
Gov. Rick Scott and U.S. Representative Tom Rooney surprised Dr. Stephens with videos thanking him for his many years of service in the education field and wishing him a happy retirement.
“I was probably asked to speak tonight because I have written the most recommendations for Norm,” said Dr. Bill Law, president of St. Petersburg College. “With the most diverse mission, SFSC is the hardest college to run in the Florida College System.” Dr. Law has known Dr. Stephens since the 1990s and previously worked with him at St. Petersburg College.
SFSC’s District Board of Trustees unveiled a watercolor for Dr. Stephens that was painted by local artist Janet King. The painting depicts Dr. Stephens and his wife Laurie on the SFSC Highlands Campus in front of the Health and Science Education Center, which was named in his honor.
“Dr. Stephens, you’re always putting the concerns of the people who work with you before yourself,” said Joel Boydston, chair of the SFSC Faculty Council. “You’re persistent, heartfelt, and have the courage of a lion. Thank you for allowing me the privilege of working with you.”
Doug Andrews, dean of cultural programs, composed and performed “Norm’s Song” on the piano for Dr. Norm Stephens Jr.
“You, sir, are a giant in the education process,” said Ben Albritton, House Representative, to Dr. Stephens. “Thank god for being who you are. Your humility is amazing.”
Dr. Stephens took the podium at the end of the night to thank everyone in the room for honoring him. “There are so many people in this room that mean so much to me,” he said. “This community supports the college like none other.”
The night ended with a standing ovation and guests singing “For He’s A Jolly Good Fellow.” After 11 years of service to SFSC, Dr. Stephens’ last day at the college was June 30.
To view a Facebook photo gallery from the event click the link below: