South Florida State College: 1965-2014
Dr. William A. Stallard
From Scrub Pine to SFCC
SFSC was established in 1965 by the Florida Legislature to serve the educational needs of Highlands and Hardee counties. The college began operation in August 1966 in temporary facilities provided at no cost to the State by public-spirited citizens of the city of Avon Park. The facilities were renovated, air conditioned, and partly furnished through the voluntary contributions of many interested individuals and organizations in both Highlands and Hardee counties and by the municipalities of Avon Park, Bowling Green, Lake Placid, and Sebring.
As of the summer of 1966, an empty supermarket became known as a college library, classes were held in a former hotel, and a movie theatre parking lot was available to SFJC students, employees, and visitors. These facilities had been converted to form the temporary quarters of a new college…South Florida Junior College. The permanent site planned for the college was 1.5 miles south of Avon Park. It was a wilderness of scrub pine and palmetto patch that stretched between two lakes and among orange groves. The college would officially move onto this site in 1969.
In 1984, South Florida Junior College became known as South Florida Community College. Today, SFSC has three campuses and several off-site centers, including the Highlands, Hardee, and DeSoto campuses, and Lake Placid Center. In 2003, the college opened the Hardee and DeSoto campuses to give residents of those counties easier access to a college education.
Programs of Study
When SFSC’s first classes began on August 21, 1966, the college offered an associate in arts degree. The original faculty of 14 full-time instructors and administrators welcomed a student population of 164 full-time students and 119 part-time and evening students.
Today, SFSC serves over 19,000 residents of Highlands, Hardee, and DeSoto counties. Students graduating with associate in arts degrees can concentrate in more than 60 fields of study. Students can earn an associate in science, an associate in applied sciences, or college credit or occupational certificates. In 1992, SFSC became one of the first community colleges in Florida to offer bachelor’s degree programs through partnerships with public and private universities. It now offers 13 bachelor’s degree programs and three master’s degree programs through eight colleges and universities. Residents can now receive advising and classroom instruction without having to drive long distances or move away from the tri-county area.
SFSC’s current Administration building was one of the first buildings constructed on the Highlands Campus and, for many years, housed the college science labs. Training in the allied health, physical sciences, and natural sciences are critical to Florida’s economy. Technological changes, the expansion of SFSC’s allied health programs, and further demand for physical and natural science courses dictated the need to create a new facility. For that purpose, the Dr. Norman L. Stephens Jr. Health and Science Education Center was opened for classes in fall 2007.
South Florida State College Through the Years