Sunday, February 18, 2018
Education

SPC trustees call college president's performance 'exemplary'

St. Petersburg College president Bill Law had a pretty good year.

He oversaw the expansion of workforce education at the college, led efforts to improve curriculum planning for students, and followed through on a promise to address overpriced textbooks.

He also saved trustee Deveron Gibbons' life. But that particular feat wasn't mentioned in his annual evaluation by college trustees, who praised his performance this week nearly two years after he took the helm.

"I have had an opportunity to review all of the evaluations, and am pleased to report that they are exemplary," Board of Trustees chairman Terrence Brett announced at the trustees meeting.

In Brett's own review, he said Law has done an excellent job helping the college refocus on its core mission of student success.

"His accomplishments over the past two years have exceeded my expectations," Brett said.

Trustee Ken Burke gave Law top marks in every category and wrote, "In every measure of a president, Dr. Law has exceeded the bar set by the board." Law began his work as president in June 2010.

Trustee Timothy North, who was appointed in September, gave Law some marks that were just "satisfactory." But his specific comments were laudatory, saying Law provides "exemplary leadership" and that his understanding of educational issues and challenges is "outstanding."

Generally, Law received high marks on diversity initiatives as well. But a couple of trustees, Brett and Gibbons, said the college still has room to improve.

Brett specifically said SPC needs to do more in terms of encouraging minority businesses to participate with or partner with the college.

Law said he's proud of the work the college is doing to make African-American and Hispanic students feel comfortable. But, he said, the college needs to do more to ensure that minority students are successful at SPC.

At Tuesday's board meeting, Law thanked trustees and his staff, saying he was especially pleased with the direction the college is heading.

"It's rewarding to know the work we're doing and the leadership I'm providing is exactly what they were looking for," he said Thursday.

Two years ago, St. Petersburg College's trustees chose Law to replace longtime president Carl Kuttler. Law was hired on the heels of Kuttler's surprise resignation and controversial request for a hefty severance package.

Before Law came to SPC, he was president of Tallahassee Community College and was founding president of Montgomery College in Houston. In the 1980s, Law worked under Kuttler as SPC's vice president of institutional and program planning.

Since Law took charge at SPC, he has resurrected its theater program and unveiled initiatives for the Learn to Earn program, which provides short, certificate-based courses in practical fields.

In November, Law became the first non-African American to be named Citizen of the Year by the Eta Rho Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. The chapter recognized his efforts to help Gibbs High School rebound from a failing grade.

In February, while in Washington, D.C., for a trustees conference, he performed the Heimlich maneuver on Gibbons, who was choking on a piece of steak.

And in March, under his leadership, the college chose a new vendor for textbooks after years of complaints that students were being overcharged.

In the past year, the college has streamlined the student registration process and developed individual learning plans, aimed at making it easier for students to chart their course through the college.

Law's annual salary is $330,000. For the second year in a row, he declined a raise.

In 2010, Law signed a three-year contract and last year it was extended a year. Tuesday, trustees extended his contract another year through June 30, 2015.

Lorri Helfand can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4155.

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