Established by the Florida Legislature in 1965, South Florida State College (SFSC) is a public, two-year postsecondary institution located in central Florida. The college serves three rural, agricultural-based counties of DeSoto, Hardee, and Highlands that span 2,385 square miles and have a combined population of 161,379. SFSC students closely mirror the demographic diversity of the district: 55 percent white, 27 percent Hispanic, 11 percent black, and 7 percent other. Sixty-one percent of its students attend part-time, and 50 percent receive financial aid.
Considered one of the most comprehensive colleges in Florida, SFSC’s primary focus is to provide open access to career and workforce training, adult basic education, and high-quality academic programs that lead to college transfer. SFSC awards a Bachelor of Applied Sciences degree in Supervision and Management (BAS-SM), associate in arts (A.A.) degrees, associate in science (A.S.) degrees, associate in applied science (A.A.S.) degrees, applied technology diplomas (A.T.D.), college credit certificates (C.C.C.), and occupational certificates (O.C.). The SFSC University Center provides six baccalaureate programs and one master’s degree program in partnership with public and private universities on the SFSC Highlands Campus. The college also offers corporate and community education programs. Currently under consideration are baccalaureate programs in nursing and elementary education.
With an emphasis on student learning and promoting student success, the college served 6,306 students (unduplicated count), earned 2,416 full-time equivalent (FTE), and awarded 675 certificates, diplomas, and degrees during the 2011-12 reporting year.
SFSC has 273 full-time and 189 part-time employees (including adjunct faculty) and is noted for the retention of faculty and staff. The college’s total operating expenses for 2011-12 were $31 million.
The college is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) to award baccalaureate and associate degrees. The college operates under Florida Statute, the Florida Board of Education, and the general oversight of the gubernatorially appointed eight-member District Board of Trustees.
Individual programs within the college are accredited via their recognized state or national accrediting agency. Accredited programs are Automotive Service Technology (National Automotive Technicians Education Foundations), Dental Education (Council on Dental Accreditation), and Radiography (Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology). The EMT/Paramedic program is state accredited through the Florida Department of Health, Bureau of Emergency Medical Services (EMS). SFSC’s Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) program is a candidate for accreditation through the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC). A decision regarding initial accreditation is expected in summer 2013.
Campuses and Other Sites
The college has four primary educational sites that provide traditional classroom instruction. The DeSoto Campus is located near Arcadia, the Hardee Campus near Bowling Green, and the Lake Placid Center in southern Highlands County. Each use distance learning to augment the educational offerings provided onsite. These three campuses all offer the associate in arts degree program, and the DeSoto and Hardee campuses offer selected technical programs.
The Highlands Campus, which lies within the borders of the city of Avon Park, is often called the most beautiful campus in Florida for its serene park-like atmosphere, trim lawns, cool fountains, and meandering walkways. It sits on a 228-acre isthmus in Florida’s Heartland, south of downtown Avon Park and north of Sebring. The Highlands Campus consists of 53 buildings, including the 1,460-seat SFSC Theatre for the Performing Arts and 1,500-seat Panther Gym.
SFSC Foundation, Inc.
The SFSC Foundation’s assets exceed $10 million. Funds raised subsidize student financial needs and benefit SFSC programs and staff through sponsorships and a mini-grant program. The foundation also provides educational facilities and low-cost student housing at the Jacaranda Residence Facility in the historic Hotel Jacaranda in Avon Park. Its development efforts include an annual giving campaign, periodic capital campaigns, an ongoing planned giving program, and at least four major fundraising events: a jubilee in November, a holiday luncheon in December, the Panther 5K Run/Walk in March, and the Spring Gala and Annual Auction in April.
Intercollegiate athletics include Lady Panther Volleyball, Panther Baseball, and Lady Panther Softball. Popular intramural athletics are flag football, soccer, and basketball.
In addition to its role as the only public postsecondary institution in the district, SFSC serves as a cultural focal point, providing quality entertainment to Florida’s Heartland since 1984. The six performance series offered are the Artist, Matinee, Jazz, Kaleidoscope, Summer, and Young People’s Theatre. Performances are held on the Highlands Campus in the SFSC Theatre for the Performing Arts and the 245-seat SFSC University Center Auditorium. Each year, the Cultural Programs Department surveys its performing arts patrons to gain feedback toward quality improvement. SFSC’s program has a healthy market penetration—22 percent of the college district population engages in cultural enrichment, compared to the average 5 percent of other community and state colleges nationally.
The Museum of Florida Art and Culture (MOFAC) is housed on SFSC’s Highlands Campus and maintains the Florida Masters Collection, one of the finest collections of Florida regional art. Permanent exhibitions also include the Highwaymen, the Cracker Cowboy Collection, and the history and archaeology of Florida.
The Wildflower Wayside Shrine Trail is an ongoing exhibition, overseen by MOFAC, in which science, art, and the natural world come together. This self-guided walking trail explores pristine scrubland on the SFSC Highlands Campus and contains six shrine boxes created by artist Mollie Doctrow to honor the endangered plant species found on the Lake Wales Ridge, the oldest ecosystem in the southeastern United States. This project was made possible by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services.
SFSC is proud to be tobacco free.