By Peyton Macrina
On January 26, 2018, St. Petersburg College selected Dr. Rodrigo Davis as the new Provost of the Tarpon Springs Campus. As of February 12th, Dr. Davis assumed his responsibilities, beginning what has become so far, a 6-month journey. I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Davis, who recently received his PhD in Education and Human Resources, and spoke with him about what has already been accomplished in these past months as well as plans for the future.
With a friendly smile and attentive demeanor, Dr. Rod Davis seemed more than happy to discuss Tarpon Springs SPC and the plans being made for the future of the campus, describing his relatively recent induction as Provost as “challenging, fun, [and] exciting, all at the same time”. Any questions regarding himself were deflected with complete modesty, stating that he’d rather focus on the future of the campus. “It’s not about me; it’s about what I’m trying to do, and how I’m trying to collaborate with our faculty”. Without further ado, we delved into the heart of the conversation.
Beginning with some general discussion about new and future opportunities at the college, Dr. Davis immediately emphasized his vision for the campus to advance “community and workforce relations”. A native of the area, Dr. Davis talked about his connection with Tarpon Springs and the surrounding communities, as well as the people who populate it. He recognizes the demand for more STEM programs and explained his plan to turn the campus into a STEM hub. This includes the newly established EMT program, which began over the summer and has already expanded from the original 14 to 24 spaces. A Paramedic Grant may also make its way to North County in the near future, along with a possible partnership with Florida Hospital, serving the need for more health programs in the area.
This led to my question concerning the new Biomedical Center. Would this contribute to turning the campus into a STEM hub? Dr. Davis informed me that the Biomedical Program is running and improvements are continuously being made to both the program and the facility that houses the program. These improvements include a new projector, backdrop, speakers, etc. This program has already grown 42% from last year and works closely with Palm Harbor University High School’s Biomed Program, encouraging transfers and bringing in more students.
Another topic I had the opportunity to discuss with Dr. Davis was what he has managed to do for both veterans and male students, demographics he expressed concern for back in January. In addition to making the Veterans Coordinator a full-time position, designated veterans parking spots were made available on campus and more events will be held for veterans. This includes the memorial that was displayed in the FA building, as well as the “Star Spangled Banner Art Event” that was held earlier in the year. Concerning male students, Dr. Davis discussed his history with male outreach programs, and his goal to promote male enrollment. He looks forward to continuing this progress by reaching out and speaking with high schoolers to encourage the pursuit of a college education earlier in their lives.
Around the end of the interview, Dr. Davis stated something profound. “Education should not be a job where folks are in it for the money or for the title. It’s a job where you’re doing something that’s special.” This one sentence embodies who Dr. Rod Davis is as the Provost of St. Petersburg College, Tarpon Springs. Everything he has done and plans to do is for the benefit and promotion of the college and community that surrounds it, as well as the students he cares very deeply for.
Dr. Davis stated that “traversing the future is going to take creativity” and “a lot of new ideas to solve problems that are new to the educational environment”. The future of the Tarpon Springs campus is in good hands, and the road ahead is a bright one, filled with numerous opportunities and possibilities that our new Provost will conquer with a can-do attitude.