Campus & Community

Boca campus and community welcome new leadership

From l: Van Williams and BJ Penn

The Palm Beach State College Foundation hosted more than 150 guests at the Boca Raton campus Sept. 21 to share its vision, welcome new leadership and recognize the significance of Palm Beach State’s impact on the community for nearly 90 years.

With the selection of Van Williams earlier this year as the new campus provost and dean of student services, the celebration luncheon was the backdrop to formally introduce him to the community and share new goals for the 900-student Boca Raton campus, which was established in 1983.

Guests at the event, chaired by South Florida businesswoman, philanthropist and PBSC Foundation Board member Yvonne Boice, included Palm Beach County Commissioner Maria Sachs; Boca Raton City Council members Yvette Drucker and Andy Thomson; Boynton Beach Mayor Steven Grant; South Florida businesswoman and healthcare philanthropist Christine Lynn; and Troy McLellan, CEO of the Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce.

Carolyn Williams, vice chair of the PBSC District Board of Trustees, and Trustee Patrice Bishop, were also in attendance for the celebration, which took place at the Countess de Hoernle Humanities and Technology Building, made possible by philanthropic support of the Countess Henrietta de Hoernle  in 2005.

From l: David Rutherford, PBSC vice president of institutional advancement and executive director of the Foundation, Yvonne Boice, Ava Parker and Van Williams

The luncheon also featured inspirational remarks from guest speaker BJ “Buddie” Penn, a former assistant secretary and acting secretary of the Navy and well-known Washington, D.C. area civic leader. Penn recalled his dream of becoming an aviator and developing great leadership skills that have served him throughout a decorated career. He also mentioned the significant people who motivated him over the years, equating this to Palm Beach State’s mission to transform lives.

Given his role as secretary of the National Trust for the Humanities, Penn said he was pleased to learn of the subjects and programs offered by the College.

“I think it’s fantastic that your curriculum also includes the seven humanities which are absolutely essential if we are to continue as a democratic society.”

Standing alongside him, Boice, who is chair of the Trust, spoke about her dedication to promoting humanities and the importance of sustaining such programs.

PBSC President Ava L. Parker, J.D., also shared how the College is impacting Palm Beach County and serving the community even through the COVID-19 pandemic.

“So many of our classes went remote but because we are the leading workforce provider within our community, we didn’t have the option to go 100% virtual,” Parker said. “We had to make sure some of our programs remained open because of our responsibility to our community.”

Williams, who took the helm of the campus June 1, expressed his gratitude toward the College and the community in supporting him in his new role and said he looks forward to developing even more relationships with the Boca Raton community.

“We have to take far more steps toward one another than away,” Williams said.

PBSC and its Foundation have made great strides in taking these steps through philanthropic, individual and community partnerships, serving Palm Beach State students as a catalyst that drives the economic and cultural well-being for all of Palm Beach County.

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