Officials from Seminole State College of Florida and the University of Central Florida kicked off a weekend of celebrations with the dedication of the $32 million Partnership Center on the College’s Sanford/Lake Mary Campus on Friday, March 26.
"The heart of our academic village is the Partnership Center," said Seminole State President Dr. E. Ann McGee. "We are celebrating a dynamic, collaborative partnership between Seminole State College and the University of Central Florida, all benefiting our students. Seminole State has more than 6,800 students in DirectConnect who know that UCF is their university of choice."
The four-story, 106,000-square-foot center houses an innovative library, plus 29 classrooms and labs for Seminole State and UCF students. The Center also features shared office suites for faculty from both institutions, shared student services and a café in the first-floor common area.
McGee and UCF President John Hitt were joined by students from both institutions as they cut the ribbon on the new center at the close of the ceremony.
“This new facility represents the latest achievement in what is one of the most successful higher education alliances anywhere,” Hitt said. “UCF is fortunate to have such a strong partner in Seminole State College. And students and families in our region are fortunate to have such high-quality, affordable options available to them right in their neighborhoods.”
UCF offers more than a dozen areas of study at Seminole State’s Sanford/Lake Mary Campus. Nearly 800 UCF students take classes at the College’s Sanford/Lake Mary and Altamonte Springs campuses.
In 2006, Seminole State joined with the university to launch DirectConnect to UCF, which guarantees all Seminole State graduates admission to UCF.
Student Melinda DeViere praised the DirectConnect program for its role in her life. DeViere, who had left college after a year to marry and raise a family, had always dreamed of completing a bachelor’s degree. As her children approached college age, she decided the time was right.
“But I wondered how I was going to do it while working and being a mom,” said DeViere, an insurance industry professional. DeViere, a Seminole State Associate in Arts grad, will graduate from UCF in May with a 4.0 GPA.
“DirectConnect bridged the gap between where I was and where I wanted to go,” she said. DeViere’s daughter, a sophomore at Seminole State, is also in DirectConnect.
With its covered sidewalks, tables and gathering places for studying, al fresco dining or socializing, the Partnership Center was designed to incorporate interior and exterior space. The core of the Center is the information commons, a bright, sunlit space that features computer kiosks, a 65-inch TV screen and a café overlooking a new 4.5-acre lake and fountain.
Occupying one wing is Seminole State’s new library. Each floor of the 33,000-square-foot library boasts its own style. The first level, which includes a cafe, is designed to promote social interaction, with comfortable furnishings and a computer lab. The second level offers abundant quiet space and private study rooms for more serious research.
Between Dec. 16 and Jan. 10, the library’s collection of 100,000 books, e-books and media was moved across campus.
Since 2007, Seminole State has opened three key new buildings, parking lots adding more than 2,000 parking spaces and a new loop road at the campus, which first opened in 1966.