By Peyton Macrina and Payton Daniele
Since the Fall 2017 term, St. Petersburg College has been on the hunt for a new provost. The selection process started off with an open search for the best nine candidates for the job. Six candidates were interviewed, and then the group was narrowed down to the top three finalists. These finalists were interviewed in an open session at Tarpon Campus on January 16th, 2018. The three finalists were Lisandra “Lisa” DeJesus, Heather Roberson, and Rodrigo “Rod” Davis.
Lisandra “Lisa” DeJesus is from Hillsborough Community College and is the only outside candidate for the Provost position. A first-generation college graduate, DeJesus understands the importance of having advisors and staff that are good listeners. DeJesus is heavily involved with the well-being of the student body and believes in listening, as well as soft skills and professional skills. She believes that SPC is “a pathway” for the success of students. DeJesus has her Doctorate of Education from the University of Florida (UF) and her Master’s degree in Educational Guidance from Norfolk State University.
Heather Roberson has been with SPC since 1999, teaching International Relations, Comparative Politics, and American National Government. She is currently located at the Clearwater Campus, but expressed a strong desire to return to Tarpon, joking that the first thing she would do would be to get a brand-new Tarpon ID. Heather Roberson has her Masters of Arts degree in Comparative Politics and International Relations earned from the University of South Florida. She continues to further her education today and is in the rigorous process of completing her PhD in Public Policy and Administration.
Rodrigo “Rod” Davis is the current Acting Provost for the SPC Tarpon Campus. A military veteran and advocate for young men and veteran’s educations, Rod Davis has a connection to this college unparalleled to most. He has served as Tarpon’s Associate Provost for the last five years. Davis has his degree in Leadership and Higher Education from Colorado State University. Davis has also received degrees in Advertising and Business Administration from UF and Saint Leo University.
Moving on, the three finalists were all passionate about the provost position and all the improvements they could make to the Tarpon campus. Each candidate had unique ideas to make Tarpon more attractive to students.
To begin, DeJesus suggested starting programs that further serve the students, such as immersion programs and more administrative aid for students. This would allow more students from diverse backgrounds and situations to have a variety of educational opportunities. Immersion programs would also serve to benefit the students, not only in their educational careers, but in their professional ones as well, by helping them become more confident in group settings.
Next, Roberson feels as though Tarpon needs to reach out to students to get them to stay enrolled. She suggested reaching out to prospective students in high schools and even middle schools to try to make Tarpon campus a possible choice when applying to colleges. Roberson also suggested a “mini college night” where anyone can come and go to mini lectures to get a feel for the Tarpon campus and experience what college is like.
Lastly, Davis wants to implement “feeder programs” to prepare students for the workforce with courses and programs that fit employer needs. Davis also mentioned the idea of an app for students to use on their phones so administration can more directly contact students and students can easily reach out to other students or faculty about their needs on a more individual level. This would appeal to a large demographic of students who are comfortable and familiar with apps and technology.
All of these ideas are important because of the possible ways they can improve the college experience for students. SPC strives to prepare its students for further education and the workplace, while prioritizing the needs of the students.
Each of the candidates presented themselves well, bringing original and creative ideas to the table. Any one of them would make a wonderful Provost for the SPC Tarpon Springs campus. As of right now, a decision has not been made and the Provost position remains unfilled.
UPDATE: As of Jan. 26, 2018, St. Petersburg College has select Mr. Rod Davis as Tarpon’s next provost. Mr. Davis will assume his new responsibilities effective Feb. 12.