Assistant Professor of Communications Shelbey Rosengarten and Instructional Design Technologist Alan Shapiro make use of a workstation at the new Faculty Development Center at the Seminole campus of St. Petersburg College.
SEMINOLE – The saws are quite audible and navigating around the construction locations can be challenging at times.
But when a $4.1 million renovation project at the Seminole campus of St. Petersburg College is complete in June, both students and faculty will have something both pleasing to the eye and very functional.
The work is ongoing in two areas – on the second floor of the library in an area formerly used for storage and in the Technology Learning Center.
The library phase includes a new Faculty Development Center where the emphasis will be learning new technology and instructional tools, as well as a place for adjunct professors to interact with veteran staff members.
The area also features six new faculty offices and eight more that are under construction. Plans also call for a new, tiered classroom, designed after the city of Seminole City Council chambers, which will hold 75 students and be used for the school’s Public Policy program.
Also in the works is a new office for SPC Dean of Natural Sciences John Chapin and a new, larger home for the staff of the Institute of Strategic Policy Solutions.
Not far away, the TL building is taking on new dimensions with an expansion aimed at helping students reach higher academic goals. More specifically, SPC is faced with the problem most colleges and universities face – student retention.
According to SPC Seminole Provost Jim Olliver, the school’s graduation rate is about 30 percent and its student retention rate, from one semester to the next, is 74 percent.
To improve those numbers, SPC officials have embarked on a massive program to identify students in trouble, diagnose those weaknesses and fix them to the best of their ability.
In an effort to address that topic, SPC Director for Learning Resources Joe Leopold and Jennifer Gregor, a Seminole campus Learning Resources faculty member, are implementing a plan to make the TL building a more comfortable environment for one-on-one faculty mentoring with students.
The new Learning Center, or learning commons, will take on the look of a 10,000-square-foot living room, complete with five flat screen televisions and a mini-café with coffee.
“We want to make it a social area,” said Oliver. “We want the students to hang out in an academic support environment.”
The facility will be available seven days a week with faculty tutoring available by appointment.
Construction on the west side of the TL building includes new science labs and eight new faculty offices on the north side of the building.
Inside, two former classrooms are being converted into a writing studio and a math lab.
Both will be available to students who seek additional tutoring or instruction in either discipline. Participation will be voluntary but in some cases faculty members will suggest it.
A number of new tools in use will allow SPC staff to chart success rates of students using the labs and one-on-one mentoring.
The idea is to find out what works the best but the ultimate goal is to get higher retention and graduation rates.