Saturday, June 23, 2018
Opinion

Pasco-Hernando Community College opens door to better life for many

Advanced education is one of the most important factors for a productive, pleasant and peaceful life. As in health care, affordability is as important as availability. In spite of the brightest minds in our richest country, we seem to lag behind.

Part of the reason has to do with a lack of understanding of priorities and the best practices. We continue to debate the best ways to teach and to test.

Moreover, the basic concepts of teaching are presently being challenged by new choices available through digital media and distant learning. The potential for future opportunities are beyond imagination. But, as we prepare to embrace the realistic and enormous future potential, we cannot forget to honor and appreciate the real successes of the past.

Pasco-Hernando Community College is celebrating 40 years of providing higher education and preparing students in both counties for a more advanced education.

In 1967, the Florida Legislature founded PHCC as the 28th and final link to the state's system of community colleges, to bring publicly supported higher education to the region's quickly growing population.

In 1972, Dr. Milton Jones, a dean at St. Petersburg Junior College, was hired as PHCC's first president and the classes were held in schools, storefronts, churches and libraries. Three years later PHCC built its first campus in Dade City, followed shortly thereafter by west campuses in New Port Richey, Brooksville and a temporary Spring Hill center that was replaced in 2010 by a nine building state-of-the art education complex. The fifth campus in Wesley Chapel is projected to open in 2014.

PHCC has seen only three college presidents since its inception, Dr. Milton Jones, Dr. Robert Judson and the current president, Dr. Katherine Johnson. The diversity and the longevity of the presidents and the faculty contributed vastly to the stability and success of the college.

In 1972, PHCC's application fee was $5 and tuition was $10 per credit hour. Enrolled students numbered 700 with a staff of 11 serving a population of 126,500. In 2012, the application fee is $25, tuition is $94.80 per credit hour, enrolled students total 15,970 and there is a full time staff of 350 serving a population of 638,321.

PHCC offers three associate degrees (arts, science and applied science) and more than 50 high-demand career programs in health care, law, business, human services etc. The Education Preparation Institute provides an alternate route to teacher certification for mid-career professionals and college graduates who lack a specific degree in education.

PHCC also offers a corporate training program, specifically designed for the needs of local businesses, plus adult education and a continuing education program, offering everything from grant writing to computer programming to CPR.

Dual enrollment helps eligible high school students take college credit courses at no charge while the encore academy serves adults over the age of 50 to promote the concept of lifelong learning.

PHCC provides online courses for distant learning and partners with local and regional colleges and universities to offer bachelor degree programs.

Community is its middle name. Student success through innovative learning is its vision. Whatever your educational needs, PHCC is available to serve.

Dr. Rao Musunuru, a member of the PHCC Board of Trustees since 1999, is slated to become chairman this year for the third time.

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