By Sarah Richards
Pensacola State College (PSC) will be changing with the tearing down of Building 1 (also known as The Baars Building, or the math building); the reconstruction is expected to be completed October 2019.
Everything but the two-story part of Building 1 will be demolished.
This plan resulted in the relocation of the Writing Lab to Building 4. This makes it more convenient for those taking English classes to stop by, so the planned deconstruction is already improving collegiate life.
The Math Lab is still in the planning process of relocation. The Life Fitness Center will be moving into a new facility. There will be classrooms for aerobics and dance, as well as an outdoor padded surface area for when the weather is nicer.
Some of the math classes will be held where the fitness center is now, before they transition to the new building.
The vacant Life Fitness Center will be the place to “relocate classes [primarily math] from the five fingers,” Dr. Meadows, President of PSC, said.
For now, it’s a waiting game, as “the construction phase of the south wing of Building 1 is contingent on the Board of Trustee’s approval…if our Board approves, that will begin the demolition of most of Building 1 and the construction of the east wing, which will house our cybersecurity center.” The new Building 1 will be a three-story structure which will house the cybersecurity program in the south wing.
Cybersecurity has become vital, for, as Dr. Meadows said, “Right now, the greatest threat to national security is not weapons of destruction, but the technology used by criminals to hack into our sophisticated business account systems with our major leading businesses and industries in America. Cybertheft is becoming our largest threat to national security.”
In the 70 years PSC has been in operation, it has transitioned from a junior college to a four-year institution with baccalaureate programs in nursing and business. “Over the past ten years, we’ve opened the South Santa Rosa Center and the Century Center,” Meadows said, which increases access.
Increased access, open access, and easy access are a few of the pillars of PSC, as well as being an affordable, but high-quality education, according to Meadows.
PSC is a dynamic character. “We’ve seen a lot of retirements over the last ten years. We had probably an uncommon number of people that worked here thirty, forty, fifty years.” The age diversity doesn’t stop at the student level. “I think the average age of our employees when I got here was plus forty, and it’s well below that now,” Meadows said.
However, sometimes, trying to keep up is a challenge. “Financial resources have been kind of scarce for Florida, particularly for the Florida college system. We’re having to seek additional funding from the private sector as well as the federal side. We’re having to become more entrepreneurial,” Meadows said.
The direction of PSC has also evolved. “We’ve refocused over the last several years on retention and completion…made that a top priority of our institution,” Meadows said.
There is also more focus on university transfers and on workforce certifications—the latter of which can be more important than a degree, as a nationally recognized certification “verifies a skill set.”
Meadows said, “I think that knowledge and understanding of technical education will become more paramount.” Even for traditional liberal arts classes, the “practical application of technology” will be integral to success.
“The hallmark of community colleges and the state college system is a rapid response to the changing environment to meet workforce needs,” Meadows said. Technology is advancing every day, and “is changing the face of how we teach and how we learn and how we apply that knowledge…some of the traditional kinds of college experiences are going to have to change.”