A Great Partnership: Higher Ed and the Community
At the Heart of Daytona Beach: Daytona State College
No smokestacks here, no blast furnaces either, but tucked away along the rivers and among the longleaf pines, Volusia County is home to more than 450 manufacturing companies, some of them leaders internationally. Helping to supply these companies with well-trained, reliable workers and recent graduates with rewarding jobs is one of the missions of Daytona State College.
Last year, DSC served a total of 26,000 students, says Tom LoBasso, president. Through its Advanced Technology College, qualified junior and senior high school students are offered free dual-enrollment at DSC, learning specific trades that are key contributors to the workforce. Dual-enrollment is also offered in other areas. “This year, 108 students got an AA degree before they graduated from high school,” says LoBasso. “Talk about a benefit to families — the savings they have experienced.”
Among others, DSC offers bachelor’s programs in education and nursing, both of which have a direct impact on the community, with graduates of the School of Nursing filling positions at area medical facilities and as teachers at local schools. For the past two years, the Volusia County Teacher of the Year was a DSC graduate.
“The college has been instrumental in several businesses relocating here,” LoBasso adds.
DSC was involved in recruiting Techfit, a Colombian company that searched the U.S. before choosing Daytona Beach and becoming part of the research park at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. “We talked to them, gave them a tour. We have machining and brand new 3D printers, and that really impressed them. We had a positive impact on their decision-making. They are going to connect with our program.”
The college boasts several other unique programs and facilities: database technology for billing and coding and the Southeast Museum of Photography, which attracts students from across the country.
“And we would put our culinary arts program up against anyone in the country. We are the only one in the region with a micro-brewing lab,” LoBasso says. Add to that the News-Journal Center, a performing arts complex on the Halifax River, “and a music production technology program with state of the art studios that mirror what you would find in Nashville,” says LoBasso. Want to learn how to make eyeglasses? Okay, there’s that, too. Or, how about an AS degree in TV production? Students get hands-on experience at WDSC-TV, an independent broadcasting station, located on campus. “Their resumes are off the chart when they graduate,” LoBasso says.
The University of Central Florida also has a presence on the Daytona Beach campus, where students can participate in the “Direct Connect” program. Study for two years at DSC, with joint advisers from UCF, and enter UCF with full junior status.
Bethune-Cookman University and Other Important Players
Since 1943, Bethune-Cookman University, a historically black private university, has graduated more than 13,200 students. Traditionally, the university has maintained intercollegiate athletic programs and instrumental and choral groups that have achieved national recognition.
National Statuary Hall in Washington, D.C. will soon include a statue of the university’s founder, civil rights leader and educator Mary McLeod Bethune. The university’s board of trustees has launched a nationwide campaign to raise funds for the statue. It will be one of only two statue positions granted to Florida.
Keiser University and Palmer College of Chiropractic give area students still more choices in the higher education options available locally.
K-12 Makes the Grade
Volusia County’s public school system is the state’s 13th largest school district (63,000-plus students) and one of the largest employers in the county with approximately 7,300 employees. More than half of the district’s employees are skilled teachers, all of whom are state-certified. Approximately 42% of instructional staff hold master’s, educational specialist or doctoral degrees.