Reflections on Our 50th

Reflections on Our 50th

Third TCC employee Dot Binger looks on at a photo in the Archive Gallery ExhibitIn Tallahassee Community College’s 50 Anniversary video, “Celebrating a Legacy, Building a Future,” Dot Binger, the third employee hired by Tallahassee Community College in 1966, said “You need always be grateful for founders.” That quote has stuck with me throughout this year as we looked back at the rich history of this College.

Being at the helm during such a milestone anniversary has been both a privilege and a far greater responsibility than many realize. TCC started in 1966 with 698 students in borrowed space at Godby High School. Today we serve nearly 40,000 credit and non-credit students annually in hundreds of classrooms across seven locations in three counties. Class offerings have expanded and curricula have been infused with technology. Buildings continue to be added to accommodate emerging needs of our students and our community.

While so much has changed at TCC in the past 50 years, the College’s core values have remained true. Since founding President Fred Turner, each of TCC’s presidents have led the College through the challenges of their time to meet the educational and vocational needs of the communities we serve with a focus on individual dignity and worth, equity of opportunity, and individual responsibility.

Access

TCC’s open-access policy is arguably our single greatest attribute. We do not require a certain GPA or extracurriculars to enroll here, just a desire to learn. And with service centers in each county and plenty of flexible online and hybrid class offerings, we are able to meet students where they are. As a result, we welcome a vibrant and diverse group of students every year, each with unique goals and perspectives. In addition, we maintain one of the lowest tuition rates in the state and to help students in need of financial assistance, we award more than $30 million in scholarships annually. This year we were able to develop scholarships for certificate and non-credit programs that do not qualify for traditional government assistance.

This means a college degree is accessible at TCC.

Local Governance

TCC serves the regional needs of the three counties of Leon, Gadsden, and Wakulla. Our Board of Trustees, appointed by the Governor of Florida from those three counties, insures that the academic and workforce programming of the college meet real needs in a flexible and responsive manner as those needs change over time.

This means TCC is committed to meeting the needs of the communities we serve.

Two honors international students in honors loungeDemand-Driven Programs

The College has stayed focused on our purpose of meeting the educational and vocational needs of our communities. Of the top ten most in-demand jobs in our region, TCC now offers training for all ten. We are also the #1 transfer institution to both Florida State University and Florida A&M University and we continue to develop and grow the Golden Guarantee Program.

This means we are not only meeting the needs of the universities where we transfer our graduates, we are meeting the needs of the businesses who hire our students as well.

Affordability

The value of the education we provide is well-documented. Our students enjoy a 16.8% average return on their educational investment, and a student with an associate’s degree in Florida earns on average 35% more than a student with a high school diploma. We are proud that for two years in a row now, TCC has been recognized as one of the top community colleges in the nation for cost, return on investment and student success by the investment website SmartAsset.com.

This means students can rest assured that their tuition dollars are for skills that will pay the bills. TCC ensures students are making a smart investment here for their future.

These four aspects – ensuring access, local governance, demand-driven programs, and affordability – are what sets TCC apart. They have kept us relevant in the lives of our students and the community for the past 50 years and will keep us relevant for the next 50 because they keep us focused on what’s most important – the success of our students.

Even while we celebrated our 50 Anniversary we also:

  • Opened the Wakulla Environmental Institute to bring together education, conservation and recreation in a way that is already revolutionizing environmental educational opportunities and creating new industries in one of North America’s biodiversity hot spots,
  • Opened the Gadsden Center and renovated the Wakulla Center to better serve students’ needs in those counties by meeting them where they are,
  • Launched a new student-focused public website and will shortly launch a completely redesigned faculty/staff intranet for better campus-wide collaboration,
  • Surpassed 20,000 members in our Alumni & Friends Association which raised more than $63,000 in one week this year for student scholarships,
  • Began designing and implementing structured academic and career pathways as part of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation/American Association of Community Colleges’ Pathways Project to help students choose a career and stay on track,
  • Reorganized Academic Affairs to align with our focus on transfer and job opportunities,
  • Established an in-house call center to better serve students’ needs,
  • Collaborated with Workday to build-out Workday Student, a completely new student information system that will transform the student experience from education to occupation
  • Added women’s cross country, the first new athletics program in 21 years, because of the proven positive impact athletics programs have on both the athletes and the student body,
  • Began renovations to the Capitol Center which will re-open in January as the new TCC Center for Innovation,
  • Added a new Transportation certificate program and with that we now offer training for all ten of the top ten Hot Occupations for our region,
  • Created TCC Spark, an entrepreneurial initiative that will develop integrated entrepreneurship programming to advance entrepreneurship in the community and create an entrepreneurial culture on campus,
  • Launched and completed the record-breaking We Rise. campaign which raised more than $13 million, $9 million of which will go directly to student scholarships,
  • Committed to matching funds from the comprehensive campaign to make much-needed updates to our learning environments,
  • Grew the Wakulla Environmental Institute’s oyster aquaculture certificate program, a first-of-its-kind program that will revitalize the oyster industry in Wakulla County, to include additional class and tuition payment options,
  • Expanded the Florida Public Safety Institute’s outreach with national programming,
  • Renovated and relaunched the Lei Wang STEM Center to support students studying science, technology, engineering or mathematics at TCC,
  • Began offering Friday-only and Weekend College classes for the first time to provide students with greater schedule flexibility,
  • Established the Veterans Leadership Academy to support veteran students who plan on seeking leadership roles in their future careers,
  • Began our first baccalaureate program, a bachelor’s of science degree in nursing, which was created due to the increased demand from local healthcare providers.

What a year! As we close and look back on 2016, I am incredibly grateful. I have experienced the full measure of love the community has for TCC. I have met so many people who have shared with me how the College has impacted their lives. Many of these people have, in turn, donated generously of their time, talent, and treasure to ensure that TCC will be here to benefit future generations of students. This has reinforced the important role we have played in the community.

As we enter the next chapter in our history, I have no doubt that Tallahassee Community College will continue to grow and change, but I also have no doubt that we will never forget where we came from. We will always be grateful for our founders.

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