AVON PARK - The sole four-year degree program at South Florida State College may have some company next year with the college developing two more bachelor's degree programs.
The college's district board of trustees will vote Wednesday to decide whether to submit proposals to the state to start a bachelor's of science in nursing and bachelor's of science in elementary education programs in the fall of 2014.
The college's first baccalaureate program, bachelor's in applied science in supervision and management, started in the fall of 2012 with about 40 students. Enrollment in the program has doubled to about 80 students in the current fall semester.
SFSC President Thomas Leitzel said Monday that the community has embraced the college's first baccalaureate program with enrollment exceeding expectations.
"We believe it's a good strong program and we are just happy to lead with that one as our first, and now these other two programs will follow," with approval by the college's board of trustees and the state board of education, he said.
At this time there are no specific enrollment goals for the proposed programs.
Leitzel said the college has focused on an "ideal" class-size maximum of 27 students.
"We are going to continue that, but it could be one or two students above or below," he said.
Currently, the college offers an associate degree in nursing, which prepares students to take the exam for licensure as a registered nurse.
"This pathway is wonderful because then the four-year degree in nursing, which is the bachelor's degree in nursing, can lead to many, many more opportunities," Leitzel noted.
Concerning the proposed elementary education program, he said, all three counties the college serves, Highlands, Hardee and DeSoto, have seen a continuing need for certified teachers.
SFSC Community Relations Director DeBorah Latter said she has had several inquires from people who wanted to know if the college was going to have an elementary education program.
Leitzel added: "We are on path right now to start next fall with both of these new four-year programs," he said. At the start, the college would add one full-time faculty member for each program.
SFSC Vice President of Educational and Student Services Leana Revell explained that the college has many full-time and part-time faculty members who are qualified to support the one full-time member who will be added for each program.
For example, for the nursing program, an instructor with a doctorate in nursing would be hired and other master's-prepared faculty who are currently on staff will assist in teaching classes for the nursing baccalaureate program, she said.
Board of Trustees Chairman Joe Wright said pursuing additional baccalaureate programs shows continued progress at the college.
"When we got the bachelor's program for Business Supervision and Management we thought what would be the first of several ... it's not that we are going to get a bachelor's degree program in everything out there, but we are focusing on bachelor's programs where we feel there is a need in our community."
It's clear to the college that there is a need for a four-year degree in both nursing and primary education, he said.
"We are very optimistic about it and looking forward to it," Wright said.
With approval by the board of trustees, the baccalaureate program proposals will go to the Florida College System, Florida Department of Education and the State Board of Education.
The college's trustees will meet at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the college's Hardee County campus.