September 2017

SPC Prepares and Recovers from Hurricane Irma

SPC leadership moved quickly and decisively as it became apparent that Irma would move through Pinellas. Students, faculty and staff received timely notification about the college closing and regular updates regarding class schedules and reopening plans.
Once the storm passed, SPC students and staff checked on neighbors, family and friends as the recovery process began. While dealing with damage and power outages at their own homes, crews of SPC staff sprang into action to clean campus buildings and grounds, restore internet connectivity, answer students calls, and much more. Power was restored to all campuses by Friday evening and the college reopened on September 18. In a college-wide email, President Williams said, “Despite the challenges we faced in the wake of Hurricane Irma, we have come through it even stronger than before. Thank you all for your patience and kindness to one another during the storm. At SPC, we are a family.”

Pictured: SPC Facilities Specialist Tom McNaughton removes debris at Seminole Campus after Hurricane Irma

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August 2017

President Williams Kicks off Academic Year, Welcomes Back Faculty

“You are. We are. I am SPC” was this year’s theme at the annual Fall Faculty welcome back event held at the St. Petersburg Coliseum earlier this month. Dr. Tonjua Williams and members of the College leadership team highlighted the collaboration between faculty and staff and the institution’s focus on student success. Dr. Williams used an interactive poll to help illustrate SPC’s impact on its students, College employees and the larger community. She stressed the importance of advancing culture, communication, collaboration and creativity to meet the challenges ahead.

The program also included updates from the Faculty Governance Organization, the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, Academic Pathways and the SACS/Quality Enhancement Plan. As part of the festivities, the College named eight Professors Emeriti in recognition of their tireless dedication to helping generations of SPC students succeed:

• John Chapin, Ph. D., Natural Science (deceased)
• Sandra Cohen, M.A., Mathematics
• Thomas Derzypolski, M.S., Ethics
• Beverly Grundset, D.P.M., Natural Science
• Leslie Honig, M.S.N., Health Sciences
• Mark Lulek, D.O.M., Fine Arts & Humanities
• Maria Osterhoudt, M.S., Business Technologies (deceased)
• Vernon Taranto, D.M.A., Choral Music

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July 2017

SPC dedicates Dr. John M. Chapin Science Lab at Bay Pines STEM Center

Family, friends, community members, faculty and staff gathered at SPC’s new Bay Pines STEM Center on June 28 to dedicate the science labs in honor of the late Dr. John M. Chapin, the former Dean of Natural Science. Dr. Chapin was the founding science faculty member on the Tarpon Springs Campus in the late 1970s. Before passing away in February, Dr. Chapin left behind perhaps his largest legacy at SPC, the Bay Pines STEM Center, a hands-on science learning complex adjacent to the Intracoastal Waterway in Pinellas County.

At the dedication ceremony, Chapin’s daughter Kristen Johnson recalled growing up in science labs alongside her father and discussed his passion for students and science. “He was more than a science guy,” said Johnson. “He was a believer in people. This center is the embodiment of his beliefs.”

The new 7,600-square-foot state-of-the-art center will serve as a community resource to increase awareness of STEM-related subjects and issues. The center will open for classes for the Fall 2017 term.

Dr. Natavia Middleton, Dean of Natural Science and Engineering, said, “I like to think of the future of STEM here as really a public service to our community,we hope that every experience will allow the community to engage with science.”

Pictured: Dr. Chapin’s daughter Kristen Johnson (left) and wife Marcia Chapin with the science lab dedication plaque

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June 2017

Dr. Tonjua Williams Prepares for New Role as President

Dr. Tonjua Williams is eagerly preparing for her new role as President of St. Petersburg College. A 30-year veteran of SPC, Dr. Williams says she is enthusiastic about the future. “I’m very excited. I’m very proud,” said Williams. “I’ve had a lot of opportunities to grow here, and now I have a chance to help others grow and achieve their goals and dreams.”

As the first in her family to attend college and earn a degree, Dr. Williams says she strongly supports any initiative designed to help others overcome obstacles and understand their ability to succeed.

Chosen by the College Board of Trustees after a rigorous review of 51 applicants from across the country, Dr. Williams impressed the search committee with her deep local ties, data-driven plans and exuberant love of SPC. Outgoing President Dr. William Law is one of her strongest supporters and says she is more than prepared to fill his shoes. “She’s a really big-time player,” Dr. Law said. “I don’t know who would be more capable.”

Students are at the center of Dr. Williams’ plans. She wants SPC to become a “student-ready college,” able to serve those with all kinds of capabilities, rather than waiting for “college-ready students.” Dr. Williams believes that SPC should be considered a first choice for high quality education, that SPC should be “the plan, not the fallback.”

Dr. Williams said her first order of business will be to assemble a transition team representative of all roles at SPC to prioritize top issues and move forward together.

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May 2017

Congratulations Graduates!

On May 13, President Bill Law welcomed guests at St. Petersburg College’s 133rd Commencement Ceremony. Held at Tropicana Field, Law led the celebration noting that, to-date, SPC has awarded 162,262 degrees since the college opened in 1927.

Past Alumni Association president Bill McCloud presented the Honorable George W. Greer with the 2017 Outstanding Alumnus award. Greer, a 1962 graduate of what was then St. Petersburg Junior College, served as a Circuit Court judge for 18 years before his retirement in 2010.

The Alumni Association also presented awards to honor graduates who demonstrate exemplary leadership, academic achievement and community service. Associate Degree graduate Theodore E. Martin, Jr., received the 2017 Apollo Award, and Baccalaureate Degree graduate Alexis Gagliardotto, received the Achievement Award. Both students addressed their fellow graduates – who ranged from 17 to 68 years of age.

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