Panther Community Celebrates New Name & Expanded Mission
By Everett Dougherty
As storm clouds loomed overhead on dark day in September, Norman L. Stephens, SFSC’s president, stood by the main flagpole wondering whether rain would soak the crowd.
Why? Because nearly 100 people had gathered at the center of the campus on September 26th to watch him kick off the college’s Open House, marking the beginning of a new chapter in the school’s history.
After 47 years as community college, the Avon Park-based joined the ranks of the state’s other four-year colleges with the adoption of a new name and expanded mission. The new name: South Florida State College. The expanded mission: a new degree program.
This fall term SFSC launched a bachelor’s degree program, the school’s first four-year program. The degree, titled Bachelor of Applied Science in Supervision and Management, prepares students for careers in entry-level and middle management.
“It is a very significant time where we have expanded our mission,” Stephens said, as students, faculty, and board members waved college flags.
The ceremony ended with the burying of a time capsule, sealing away memorabilia until the year 2040, when future students and faculty will enjoy a blast from the past when they unearth a trove of knickknacks from the lives of today’s SFSC family.
When asked about the significance of the time capsule Stephens said, “We wanted to tell people in 2040 what kind of transition we were going through in this moment in the history of the college,” more specifically regarding the addition of new bachelor degree programs.
Expecting that by 2040 the college will have many bachelor degree programs, Stephens mused that future students and faculty of the college will “Perhaps wonder what it was like back when the first bachelor program was inaugurated.”
Inside the capsule rests approximately 150 items, from employee name tags to Panther sports uniforms, as well as a letter from the Board of Trustees and a USB drive containing pictures of the school and students.
With the time capsule ceremony complete, the festivities moved inside where the Culinary Arts Program fed the 250 attendees while the band Broken Road entertained the crowds with smooth music.
Among those attending was SFSC’s very own Ms. Highlands County, Chabeli Ravelo Perez. Her comments echoed that of Stephens’s. She recognized the significance of the time capsule for a future class’s ability to look back and see how much things have changed.
One notable outcome of the event, besides the rain holding back from drenching the crowd, the open house raised morale and showed all attending that current students, alumni, and faculty could come together and enjoy themselves.
As student Alex Walzem put it, “I possibly joined the drama club, met a bunch of new people, did some networking, got to hear some music, free food, who can say more?”