Described by SCC President E. Ann McGee as an “academic village,” the SCC-UCF Partnership Center will feature 29 classrooms, new faculty offices and shared space for SCC and UCF student services.
Catering to SCC and UCF students, the triple-winged joint-use facility will also include a 33,000 square foot research library and a mini-cafי.
Overlooking a man-made lake, the four-story structure will be accessed by covered walkways connecting the parking areas to the new facility.
The Partnership Center will be built at the east end of the campus, in front of the current administration and student services buildings.
Scheduled to open in 2010, with construction to begin in the next few weeks, the Partnership Center will allow a greater number of SCC students to pursue bachelor’s degrees without leaving the familiar confines of the Sanford/Lake Mary campus, which already serves as one of UCF’s 11 regional campuses.
The list of undergraduate and minor courses currently offered at the Sanford/Lake Mary campus includes business administration, criminal justice, legal studies, mathematics, information technology, nursing, early childhood education and elementary education.
That list is expected to multiply significantly when the Partnership Center opens.
Undergraduate and some graduate courses are also currently offered at SCC’s Center for Economic Development at Heathrow.
As part of the DirectConnect partnership between UCF and a number of community colleges in the Central Florida area, any community college student graduating with an A.A degree (Associate of Art) is guaranteed admittance to UCF.
This arrangement also applies to some students who graduate with A.S. degrees (Associate of Science).
With freshman enrollment currently being curtailed at UCF due to a burgeoning student population, guaranteed admittance to a state university helps ensure that those who wish to continue their educations have the opportunity to do so.
Offering the 3,000 and 4,000 level classes required of those pursuing bachelor’s degrees, the Partnership Center may also help reverse the trend of current and former UCF students seeing their expected graduation dates delayed because they are unable to gain admission into those required classes.
UCF’s student population now ranks sixth in the nation in terms of overall enrollment and second in terms of undergraduate enrollment.
In recent years class offerings have at times failed to keep pace with student demand, earning UCF the nickname “U Can’t Finish” – a reputation that has led some transfer students to look elsewhere when selecting their next school.
UCF plans to hire additional teachers and administrators to staff the new Partnership Center, but the new facility may also give SCC faculty the opportunity to teach upper level courses as well.
Breaking new ground
On Wednesday, May 21, SCC President E. Ann McGee presided over a groundbreaking ceremony that took place at SCC’s Sanford/Lake Mary Campus.
She addressed guests while standing on a temporary outdoor stage symbolically located at a point that will one day mark the “exact center” of the SCC-UCF Partnership Center.
McGee declared May 21 a “red letter day,” mentioning that the SCC-UCF Partnership Center is part of an $83 million effort to renovate and build new facilities at SCC’s original 42-year-old campus.
“In three short years this campus will be incredibly transformed,” McGee proclaimed.
Among those joining McGee on stage Wednesday were UCF President John Hitt, State Representatives David Simmons and Chris Dorworth, former representative David Mealor, County Commissioner Mike McLean, SCC board members Lisa Greer and Dede Schaffner, UCF trustee Judy Albertson, UCF Provost Terry Hickey and David Harrison, vice-provost for UCF regional campuses.
Over the years, Simmons and Mealor have played keys roles in securing funding for SCC’s expansion efforts, including the addition of the state of the art automotive center and the new campus in Altamonte Springs.
Dorworth, who also serves as Chairman of the SCC District Board of Trustees, told guests Mealor was instrumental in procuring funding for the new building before presenting him with a token of appreciation.
District 34 voters elected Dorworth to replace Mealor when Mealor stepped down from his seat in the Florida House of Representatives earlier this year.
Mealor now serves as associate vice president and director of the UCF Sanford-Lake Mary Campus.
After pouring himself a cup of coffee before taking to the stage, Dr. Hitt stopped for a few minutes to discuss the Partnership Center with a former SCC student.
“It’s going to be great for UCF and Seminole Community College. Most importantly though, it’ll be great for the students it will serve,” Hitt said.
“If you have family or work responsibilities out here in the Sanford-Lake Mary area we can certainly say that our campus is accessible, but it’s a 30 minute drive with tolls each way,” Hitt said.
“If, on the other hand, we offer the program you need here – and we’ll offer a number of programs that are in high demand – you can get everything you need from your first course, to complete Bacheloreate, and in some cases a Masters Degree right here.”
As for how the new facility will benefit UCF, Hitt said the Partnership Center would help reduce the load on the main campus, while also alleviating some of the pressures currently placed on school roads and parking facilities.
“It gives us a chance to serve people who probably would not be able to come to us in some cases,” Hitt said, before the ceremony began.
Later, while addressing ceremony guests, Hitt talked about the importance of forming partnerships and explained that when he arrived at UCF 16 years ago he did so with five goals in mind; one if which was to become America’s leading partnership university.
“We did partnerships before partnerships were cool,” Hitt said, sharing his opinion that “nothing gets done by any institution or individual acting alone; we have to form partnerships.”