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Seminole State's founding family honored during 2014 Collegewide Convocation

"We're all well aware, students are the only reason a college exists." - Dr. Earl Weldon, December 1995

Seminole State College of Florida launched its 50th anniversary to employees at its annual Collegewide Convocation on Sept. 30. In honor of the milestone, the Weldons, Seminole State's founding family, received the Community Pathfinder Award in recognition of their contributions to the College and the community.

Gerry Weldon, "the first lady of Seminole State" and widow of founding president, Dr. Earl Weldon, accepted the award with her daughter, Janice Weldon Hickson.

"This was his vision; this was his dream; this is what he saw," Gerry Weldon said. "Earl saw a vision of the buildings and the multi-campuses. He saw a college that served the community…This dream would not have been possible if it were not for you. Faculty and staff are the first impression that students see."

Gerry Weldon (left) and daughter Janice Weldon Hickson accepted the Community Pathfinder Award on behalf of their family at the 2014 Collegewide Convocation. 

Earl Weldon, who was hired in October 1965, guided the College for 30 years.

Convocation opened with Seminole State President Dr. E Ann McGee's annual "State of the College" address.

During her address, McGee noted that the College's 50th anniversary in 2015 is an opportunity for "reflecting and projecting." Her reflections included Seminole State's longtime partnership with Seminole County Public Schools (SCPS) and the University of Central Florida (UCF).

Nearly 40 percent of recent SCPS graduates continue their education at Seminole State, and 10,000 Seminole State students are enrolled in DirectConnect to UCF, which offers Seminole State associate degree graduates guaranteed entry to UCF.

"Thanks to our partnership with these institutions, our students see the pathway to their goals, and they want to be a part of it," McGee said. "We are a national model of educational partnerships in the U.S."

She also highlighted these successes:

  • The College ranks No. 15 in the nation in awarding A.A. degrees, according to national rankings published in Community College Week.
  • Enrollment in the College's Grindle Honors Institute increased by 132 percent this fall.
  • In eight of the last nine years, a Seminole State student has won a Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. The scholarship is considered the top prize for two-year college transfer students.

Looking ahead to the 50th anniversary, McGee also cast a vision for the College's future, which includes several projects to benefit students:

  • Sanford/Lake Mary Campus: Addition of a Wellness Center and a Student Center, and renovation of the quad between buildings L and J.
  • Altamonte Springs Campus: Master plan to include eight new high-rise buildings and parking structures at the campus, and the creation of 1.4 million square feet of space.
  • Foundation for Seminole State: A comprehensive campaign for student success.

The College also presented Career Service Excellence Awards and a $1,250 check from the Foundation to Coby Henry, laboratory manager, Biological Science; and Shelley Herter; office supervisor, Academic Administration Oviedo Campus. The award recognizes “exemplary service to the College, for consistent demonstration of excellence, and for contributions to colleagues, students and our community."

The 2014 Pathfinder Awards were presented to an outstanding employee and department. The employee award went to Deborah Richard, director of college and community relations. The departmental award was given to the Biological Science Department. Each received $2,000 provided by the Foundation.

Guests also included Alex Setzer, Board of Trustees chair and Seminole State alumnus; Melanie Cornell, chair of the Foundation Board of Directors; and Lake Mary Mayor David Mealor, who is also associate vice president of UCF’s Sanford/Lake Mary Campus.

In addition to the formal program, Convocation 2014 featured a daylong Employee Development Conference with more than 50 workshops on a variety of topics. Most of the workshops were conducted by Seminole State faculty and staff.

Seminole State College of Florida was chartered in 1965 as the first public college in the Orlando area. In 2015, the College will honor 50 years of changing lives with a yearlong celebration.

In her address at the 2014 Collegewide Convocation, Seminole State President Dr. E. Ann McGee honored the past and cast a vision for the future as the College prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2015. 

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