June 6, 2023

Northeast Florida Roundup

National winners: Santa Fe College wins the Aspen Prize

Ron Word | 5/27/2015

From its inception in 2011, the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence — awarded every two years — has established itself as a coveted honor in the educational community. And from the beginning, Florida’s community colleges have consistently placed among the finalists.

Valencia College was named the top community college in the country in the award’s inaugural year, and this year, Santa Fe College earned the top award, beating out 1,123 community colleges from around the country.

“It is the national championship of our work across the country. We are highly honored to be the symbol this year of colleges that are successful in fulfilling the mission of the classic community college,” says Sante Fe College President Jackson Sasser.

The top prize is awarded based on a rigorous evaluation of a school’s results in four areas: Student learning; certificate and degree completion; employment and earnings; and high levels of access and success for minority and lowincome students.

Santa Fe graduates have a 70% acceptance rate when applying to the University of Florida. Minority students, who make up 20% of the 22,000-student college, have a 49% graduation or transfer rate, compared with 34% nationally. The overall graduation/ transfer rate at Santa Fe is 62%, compared with 40% nationally.

Santa Fe and Broward College were finalists in 2013. Miami-Dade College was a “finalist with distinction” in 2011. Indian River State College was a finalist this year. For winning the top honor this year, Santa Fe will receive $800,000, which will be placed in an endowment fund, where the interest on it will be used to help more students, Sasser says.


  • Michael Brannigan has taken over the reins of Suddath Cos., based in Jacksonville, from CEO and President Barry Vaughn, who is retiring. Brannigan previously served as executive vice president and COO.
  • Heather Duncan, regional director of external affairs for AT&T Florida, has been appointed the 2015 chairman of Gator Bowl Sports. Duncan will oversee three Gator Bowl Sports entities: The Jacksonville Sports Council, Tax- Slayer Bowl and Gator Bowl charities.
  • Anne E. Donnelly, director of the University of Florida’s Center for Undergraduate Research, has been honored with the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring. She will receive a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation. Donnelly, who came to UF in 1996, serves on three committees at NSF.

Profile: BCR Environmental

BCR Environmental, based in Jacksonville, has developed two new technologies to convert human waste to recycled usable materials suitable for land applications.

At Jacksonville Naval Air Station, using the BCR technology, the Navy has reduced its energy consumption for biosolids treatment by 95% and reduced greenhouse emissions by 480 tons per year. The company projects the Navy will save about $146,500 a year over the next 20 years.

The company also has completed more than $100 million in public-private partnerships, which have reduced the cost of human waste management by an average of 40%; eliminated more than 15,000 megawatts per year of energy consumption; addressed environmental health and safety issues; and provided for the recycling of more than 120,00 tons per year of organic waste.

Business Briefs

GAINESVILLE — Civil engineering firm Jones Edmunds won a $20-million contract from NASA for work at the Kennedy Space Center as part of the agency’s Space Launch System manned deep space program. Jones Edmunds must make sure the 4-mile gravel roadway from the rocket assembly building to the launch pad can withstand the 25 millionpound SLS vehicle. Biotechnology company BioD has committed $1 million to the University of Florida’s J. Crayton Pruitt Family Department of Biomedical Engineering.

JACKSONVILLE — Silver Airways has started daily weekday flights between Jacksonville and Pensacola. > Efforts to reform Jacksonville’s fire and police pension plan received a double whammy. First, the City Council defeated Mayor Alvin Brown’s pension reform proposal with a 9-9 vote. Then, Circuit Judge Thomas Beverly struck down a 30-year agreement between the city and the Police and Fire Pension Fund. He ruled the agreement negotiated in 2000 was in violation of the state’s Sunshine Laws. Brown says he won’t appeal the ruling. > Mainstreet Capital Partners bought the SunTrust Tower downtown for $31.1 million. The 23-story building is the seventh downtown high-rise sold since December 2013. JEA, the city-owned utility, is getting into the natural gas business with plans to purchase more natural gas than it needs and sell the excess to large companies. JEA hopes to generate $5 million in net revenue through 2019. > Clean Energy Fuels is building a compressed natural gas fueling station at the Jacksonville Transportation Authority’s campus for use by the public and JTA. > Fanatics, a Jacksonville-based online retailer of officially licensed items, plans to move more than 300 employees from around Jacksonville into one building at the Cypress Park Business Park on Jacksonville’s Southside. Nuflo, which produces specialty pipe fittings for military aircraft carriers and submarines, is investing $4 million to build a 50,000-sq.-ft. pipe mill in Jacksonville. Interline Brands, a distributor of maintenance and repair products, is consolidating its five biggest names on the institutional maintenance and repair market under a new brand: Supply Works. It consolidated AmSan, Sexauer, Cleansource, JanPak and Trayco into one firm. Nemours Children’s Clinic in downtown Jacksonville is changing its name to Nemours Children’s Specialty Care.

ST. AUGUSTINE — Work has begun on a $280,000 restoration of the 1874 St. Augustine lighthouse.

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