Today, Governor Rick Scott was joined by college leaders at Valencia College to announce that six additional colleges have accepted the “Governor’s $10,000 Degree Challenge,” including Valencia College, Santa Fe College, College of Central Florida, Daytona State College, Seminole State College of Florida and Broward College. Earlier in the day, the Governor announced the challenge and that St. Petersburg College was the first to agree to create a $10,000 degree program.

Governor Scott said, “I am issuing a challenge to our state colleges to find innovative ways to offer a bachelor’s degree at a cost of just $10,000 in fields that will provide graduates with a great opportunity for employment. As a former community college student myself, I know how important it is for us to keep costs low while increasing skills training and career readiness for students. Working with the Florida Legislature, this $10,000 degree challenge will undoubtedly jumpstart the dreams of many Floridians. We are excited to see a total of seven Florida colleges already stepping up to the plate to enter the challenge and support the future of Florida families – and I’m hopeful even more colleges will step up to meet the challenge.”

At the press conference, the Governor was joined by Dr. Sanford C. Shugart, President of Valencia College; Dr. Jackson N. Sasser, President of Santa Fe College; Sheriff of Alachua County Sadie Darnell, a business partner of Santa Fe College coordinating a $10,000 degree in public safety; Dr. James Henningsen, President of College of Central Florida; Dr. Carol Eaton, President of Daytona State College; Dr. E. Ann McGee, President of Seminole State College of Florida; and Florida College System Chancellor Randy Hanna on behalf of Broward College.

Valencia College

Sanford C. Shugart, President, Valencia College, said, “We are gratified by Governor Scott’s endorsement of the work the Florida College System and Valencia College have done to address the workforce needs of the state at a time when both the resources of Florida’s working families and the state are constrained.  The college has worked very hard to reduce the cost of an education, avoiding an increase in tuition and fees in the current year and reducing the total cost of education by some 25 percent per full-time student over the past five years (adjusted for inflation) while enrollment grew at unprecedented rates. The college continues to provide free access to dual enrollment, to homeless students, and a variety of other special categories of students in need, writing off more than $3.5 million in tuition and fees annually. Meanwhile, our highest priority is providing affordable access to a quality education at America’s top-ranked community college.”

Ms. Bertica Cabrera-Morris, Chair of Valencia College, said, “On behalf of Valencia College’s Board of Trustees, I would like to echo the Governor’s desire to keep college affordable. At a time when many families are concerned about the rising cost of college, we at Valencia have been working diligently to keep costs for students as low as possible. This year, when other colleges and universities raised their tuition, Valencia opted not to raise the cost of college for our students. In addition, our faculty are working to find creative solutions to the ever-rising costs of textbooks, so that the cost of textbooks is not a deterrent for students. Valencia has a history of finding creative solutions to problems — and doing the best for its students and its community. That’s why we at Valencia welcome Gov. Scott’s challenge to create a baccalaureate degree that will cost less than $10,000. I applaud the governor’s office for giving colleges the flexibility to create a degree and a program that work best for each community and each college. I am certain that Valencia will rise to the challenge and create a degree that will be valuable and marketable.”

Alexandre Fong, Senior Vice-President, Life Sciences and Instrumentation, Gooch and Housego, Business Partner of Valencia College, said, “We are pleased to learn that Valencia College will be offering even more affordable opportunities for students to earn a bachelor’s degree in electrical and computer technology engineering. At a time when many college graduates are struggling to find jobs, engineering, particularly electrical and computer engineering with a specialization such as photonics offers graduates tremendous opportunities. In fact, at Gooch and Housego, we’ve hired recent Valencia grads and we look forward to working with Valencia graduates in the future. Moreover, these are skills that can be applied and are needed in a broad variety of industries. Training in engineering sciences provides incredible flexibility in terms of career options and is a great return on investment!  Graduates of such a B.S.-Optics & Photonics program will serve an important and currently unmet need in the photonics industry in Florida as well as in the USA, and also in many related industries such as aerospace, medicine, telecommunications, and manufacturing that use photonics, which is a critical enabling technology for the industries.”

Santa Fe College

Jackson N. Sasser, President, Santa Fe College, said, “The Governor is right. We must exhaust every state resource to train Floridians for current and emerging jobs. As president of Santa Fe College, I commit to offering a bachelor degree in Public Safety Management for $10,000 per student.  In addition to this degree providing employment for public service employees, it will provide improved protection for Florida citizens.”

Sheriff of Alachua County Sadie Darnell said, “As Alachua County Sheriff, I wholeheartedly endorse Santa Fe College’s proposal to offer a bachelor’s degree in public safety management for $10,000 per student. The challenges and demands of the law enforcement profession have become increasingly rigorous. Many areas of law enforcement now require a four-year degree and a specific set of skills are necessary for supervisory and management positions. The advanced level of training offered by this degree will provide law enforcement personnel the opportunity to obtain the knowledge and skills they need to perform the highest level of service to residents of our communities.”

Greta Moreau, a student who wants to take advantage of program at Santa Fe College, said, “I am strongly supportive of Santa Fe College’s proposal to offer a bachelor’s degree in public safety management for $10,000 per student. I am currently a program assistant in the Gainesville Police Department’s Property and Evidence Unit. I love police work, but without additional education, I have no further opportunities for advancement. Such a degree would allow me to stay in my field and continue working at the Gainesville Police Department.  I have three children and have always emphasized the importance of them finishing their education. Besides enhancing my career, the availability of this degree would allow me to set an educational example for my children.”

Seminole State College of Florida

Dr. E. Ann McGee President, Seminole State College of Florida, said, “Seminole State College of Florida is committed to providing affordable access to students seeking bachelor degrees that support the workforce needs in Florida. The College partners with several employers including Wharton-Smith Incorporated to identify and create degree programs that prepare students to be job-ready upon graduation. Through these partnerships, Seminole State proposes to offer a four-year Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Construction degree for tuition and fees in the amount of$10,000.  Seminole State College’s Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Construction is the only program of its kind in Central Florida leading to professional licensure as a general contractor (Certified GC- and/or Building Contractor) and creating jobs in high-demand fields. Students graduating with this degree acquire leadership skills and are able to plan and conduct operations for successful construction projects from design to occupancy.”

Mr. Scott Howat Chair, District Board of Trustees, Seminole State College of Florida, said, “The District Board of Trustees for Seminole State College of Florida is committed to keeping the cost of a higher education affordable for the citizens of Florida. The decision by the Board to freeze tuition for this academic year is a testament to this commitment. To help keep college affordable, the College partners with employers and our Foundation to seek creative ways of providing a quality education without increasing the financial burden on students and their families. Offering a four-year Bachelor of Science in Construction degree for $10,000 will benefit our students and our community. As chair of the District Board, I will work with my fellow board members, President McGee, and her staff to provide the resources necessary to help these students be successful.”

Ronald F. Davoli, President and CEO, Wharton-Smith, Inc., a business Partner, Seminole State College said, “As both a licensed contractor and employer of construction professionals, I strongly support Seminole State College’s Baccalaureate Program in Construction Management. It is my belief that it is important for Orlando and the balance of Central Florida area to have this accredited four-year degree program in Construction Management. The baccalaureate degree is the preferred credential for entry level professionals in our industry and these graduates are in high demand. Having this program in our backyard enables my firm to recruit qualified employees from within our region. We also like to utilize interns throughout the year on a part-time basis and this program is an excellent source for these hires. The region benefits greatly from having a quality program which is accessible, affordable, and workforce-oriented in order to meet the growing need for qualified Construction Management professionals.”

Broward College

David Armstrong, President, Broward College, said, “At Broward College we are challenging ourselves to be innovative and cutting edge in an effort to make the educational journey for our students the best one possible. The development of a $10,000 college degree is a challenge we embrace. By allowing a quality education to be affordable, we further increase the chances of students succeeding and thus allowing them to become positive, contributing members of our community.”

Sean Guerin, Chair of Broward College, said, “We are all aware of the financial challenges our nation has faced in the last several years and how that has impacted our student population. This year, our Board voted to keep tuition rates flat, making us one of the lowest cost colleges in the country – forgoing the increased revenue because we wanted to give our students and their families a financial break. The creation of a degree program that would cost $10,000 or less is another example of an innovative concept that would surely be embraced by college staff and by the District Board of Trustees. I am happy to see our state and Broward College moving in this direction.”

Bob Swindell, President and CEO, Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance, said, “At the Alliance, a leading economic development agency, we know that higher education, advanced training and a strong workforce are all factors that lead to a robust Florida economy. More than ever, colleges play a critical role in training students to enter the workplace, providing a foundation for a high quality of life, while building a skilled workforce for today and tomorrow. I applaud the State of Florida for looking at innovative ways to make college more affordable, including the introduction of a $10,000 bachelor’s degree. I support this type of effort and believe many of my colleagues do as well, as it will certainly turn out more qualified workers, making for a more vibrant workplace and economy.”

Nicholas D. Evangelisti, Student, Broward College, said, “For many, the choice of whether or not someone is able to go to college simply comes down to cost.  Unfortunately, as tuition rises at many colleges and universities across the nation, the dream of obtaining a bachelor’s degree becomes less of a reality for many.  I truly appreciate the State of Florida looking at new and innovative ways to lower tuition. The concept of a $10,000 bachelor’s degree is exciting, to say the least, and I truly believe there are many, like myself, who would be motivated to explore such an exciting path.  This could potentially open the door of opportunity to so many yearning for this kind of chance. Thank you to the State of Florida and the college system for looking at new ways to make a college degree more affordable.”

College of Central Florida

Dr. James Henningsen, President, College of Central Florida, said, “In this complex global economy, Floridians must be positioned to compete for the best jobs at home and abroad. In the face of fiscal challenges, Florida must develop a strong workforce to reinvigorate the local economy. With baccalaureate degree attainment in our service area below state and national averages, the College of Central Florida recognizes the imperative to adopt new and innovative approaches to program development that will overcome economic barriers that limit access, and encourage higher levels of postsecondary participation and achievement. We are pleased to join with Governor Rick Scott in taking this bold step toward ensuring that a baccalaureate degree is within the reach of all Floridians.”

Ron Ewers, Chair, College of Central Florida, District Board of Trustees, said, “We have an opportunity to create a highly-affordable, high-quality, ‘package of success’ for our students by offering a bachelor degree for $10,000. With a combination of dual enrollment or AP credit and financial support through our scholarship initiatives we will be able to offer our students a four-year, baccalaureate degree for $10,000. What a great return on investment… and foundation for a strong economy moving forward.”

Daytona State College

Carol W. Eaton President, Daytona State College, said, “Daytona State College is pleased to participate in the pilot program to offer affordable workforce baccalaureate degrees to Florida’s citizens. Our focus will be to attract highly motivated students through a proposed ‘Fast-Track Baccalaureate Program’ that offers a three-year path through any of the college’s bachelor’s degrees for $10,000. We will provide this new pathway designed for students graduating from high school in spring 2013 and entering Daytona State in fall 2013, providing they have accumulated a minimum of 15 credit hours through dual enrollment, AP or International Baccalaureate programs; that they maintain continuous full-time enrollment; and that they graduate within three years.”

Dwight D. Lewis Chair, District Board of Trustees of Daytona State College, said, “The District Board of Trustees embraces this innovative Fast-Track Baccalaureate opportunity to expand affordable access to qualified high-achieving students, in support of the Governor’s proposal to prepare more qualified workers for Florida industry and business.”

Ignacio Angel, a student, Daytona State College, pursuing Bachelor of Science degree in engineering technology, said, “The affordability and convenience of attending college close to home has been key for me, especially because I work full time. By continuing my education in steps, first earning my (IT) certificates, then the AS degree, and now going for the bachelor’s degree, I am able to gain new skills and grow in my career.”

 

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