At the beginning of this academic year, I informed our District Board of Trustees that this would be my final year as the president of Palm Beach State College. The months since that announcement have been a whirlwind of activity as we push forward on initiatives of great importance to the College and to the community. In rare moments available for quiet reflection, I realize that while I am excited about my upcoming retirement, I am also relishing each opportunity this year presents to advance the College and provide our students with what they need to succeed and grow.
The Nov. 7 groundbreaking for the new Loxahatchee Groves campus was one of those satisfying moments. After receiving approval from the State Board of Education in 2006 to proceed with the establishment of a new campus, the College intensified its efforts to secure construction funding and purchased a 75-acre parcel of land in Loxahatchee Groves in 2012. The groundbreaking event was a culmination of efforts that brought together more than 100 community supporters, business and political leaders in a true spirit of celebration. While the campus will not be completed during my tenure, it is extremely gratifying to see this project take shape and to know that what we worked diligently to bring about will benefit Palm Beach County residents for generations to come.
It is even more rewarding to look back at the academic growth of the institution. During my nearly 18 years as president, the College has added dozens of new programs to meet local, current employment needs. The STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) have become high-focus program areas, and our students are graduating with credentials that give them access to the region’s growing bioscience and information technology industries. We have created the Dr. Floyd F. Koch Honors College for high achieving students, and we have expanded our educational offerings to include high-demand baccalaureate degrees. Many programs and courses are now Internet-based, as e-learning has become the fastest growing segment of the College’s enrollment.
With all of us working together, the College has grown in size and stature, right along with the community we are charged to serve. The College’s current enrollment makes us the largest institution of higher education in Palm Beach County. The College Foundation’s endowment has grown to $31.6 million, and Community College Week has recognized the College as the eighth largest producer of associate degrees in the nation. The College also has made extensive upgrades to modernize its facilities and constructed new facilities to accommodate programs added to the curriculum.
One of the most rewarding aspects of serving as PBSC president has been the close collaboration with the communities that we serve. I have been blessed to work with the District Board of Trustees and co-workers with vision and dedication, and they all have supported the College in innumerable ways. Each of our campuses enjoys strong, productive ties with local businesses, schools and civic organizations. We have worked together with the School District of Palm Beach County to forge smooth pathways for students and to strengthen dual enrollment and early admission. Palm Beach State College is chosen by more high school graduates than any other postsecondary institution in the county. These students, as well as adults in our community, have access to a rich range of educational options and instructional/student support services, no matter what their personal and professional goals are.
While much has been accomplished, there are still many goals to be achieved and opportunities to improve our services to the community. As the College conducts a national search for its next president, I am devoting my full attention to continuing our progress on these fronts and ensuring a smooth passage to the new administration.
Serving as the leader of an incredible institution in a community that values and supports quality education has been a thrilling, rewarding journey. I will be leaving with a grateful heart.
Dennis P. Gallon, Ph.D.