Florida Trend | Florida's Business Authority

Delivering for Florida

(Florida Trend)

As you know from my past columns, education is an important topic to me. My parents instilled in me at a very young age the value of a good education. They emphasized that education is the key that unlocks so many doors. Both of my parents were the first in their families to get college degrees. My siblings and I heeded their advice, though we took different paths. My sister earned her master’s degree, my older brother and I graduated from a four-year university, one of my younger brothers received an associate’s degree and another pursued a technical degree. It didn’t matter which route we took, we all understood the importance of a post-secondary education.

My wife, Jessica — who has a master’s degree in early childhood curriculum — and I have worked hard to instill that same appreciation for higher education in our four children, and I am proud to say that all of them have followed down the path of higher education. Upon the graduation of our youngest son this spring, all four will have earned bachelor’s degrees in different disciplines.

One of the things that I love about my job is the opportunity to talk to so many interesting executives around the state. Last month, I had the privilege of meeting with four Florida College System presidents: Tonjua Williams of St. Petersburg College, Angela Garcia Falconetti of Polk State College, Timothy Beard of Pasco-Hernando State College and Edward Meadows of Pensacola State College. Each of these distinguished leaders is helping to educate, train and develop Florida’s workforce, whether through their degree courses or through non-degree certificate programs catered to the needs of local businesses.

What our Florida College System is accomplishing is very impressive to say the least. See for yourself:

95% of Florida College System graduates stay and work or continue their education in Florida.

10,000 new Florida jobs are created by Florida College System graduates.

The Florida College System has an economic impact of $26.6 billion.

Every $1 of taxpayer money invested in our state colleges generates a return of nearly $15.50.

Graduates of our state college system will earn a return on investment of 12%. Over a lifetime, these grads will earn more than $838,000 than if they hadn’t pursued a state college degree.

Florida’s 28 state colleges serve nearly 730,000 students and annually award more than 115,500 certificates and degrees. The Florida College System is the primary access point for education in Florida. And as a result, almost half of all juniors and seniors in the State University System started their paths to higher education at one of Florida’s state colleges.

We have a lot to be thankful for in Florida. A strong commitment to higher education is one of them. If you have an opportunity to talk to one of your state legislators, make sure he or she values our state colleges as much as you do. Their help is crucial to making sure Florida remains a top state for higher education.

— David G. Denor, Publisher ddenor@floridatrend.com