1. Opinion

SPC's Clearwater location marking 50th anniversary

As Provost of St. Petersburg College's Clearwater Campus, I wanted to take a moment to welcome new and returning students alike to the fall 2015 term. This will be an especially exciting year, as we will be celebrating our campus' 50th anniversary.

The Clearwater Campus has been an integral part of this community since 1965. Then known as St. Petersburg Junior College, the college built the Clearwater Campus as its first "satellite" campus due to projected population growth and requests from north Pinellas county residents who sought educational opportunities closer to home.

Upon opening, the campus served 532 students. Today, our enrollment tops 10,000 students per year. We're also the home campus for 11 popular programs of study, including architectural design, education, engineering technology, theater and visual arts.

Since its inception, the Clearwater Campus has been on the cutting edge of technology. In 1966, we started the first-ever data processing degree housed in a state-of-the-art facility, and our campus piloted the college's first online registration system.

Today, the spirit of innovation remains at the Clearwater Campus. In 2012, we opened the Tampa Bay area's first Collaborative Center for Emerging Technologies, a technologically advanced manufacturing center that gives students hands-on experience to prepare them for high-wage, in-demand jobs in some of the area's fastest growing fields. A year later saw the opening of our state-of-the-art Ethics and Social Sciences building, which holds a LEED Gold certification.

This academic year begins another exciting advancement for our campus, with the groundbreaking of a brand new library. This nearly 45,000-square-foot building, which will be a joint-use facility with the City of Clearwater, will serve students and community members. The new library will be a symbol of our college's mission to increase student achievement and positively impact citizens' lives.

Just as it was back in 1965, the Clearwater Campus wants to provide educational opportunities that will change lives for the better. In honor of all of those who have been a part of the Clearwater Campus family, we are hosting a celebration from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Nov. 18, at the campus at 2465 Drew Street. Please mark this date on your calendar now, and join us for this special event, which will include presentations, displays of student work and complimentary refreshments.

Again, welcome to a new academic year, one which we hope will be fulfilling for our students and the community — and marked by this exciting milestone event to celebrate 50 years in our great city.