The Public Policy and Administration program held its tenth Public Policy Leadership Speaker Series luncheon on Wednesday, March 1. The featured guest for this luncheon was St. Petersburg College President Dr. Bill Law, who will retire this summer.
After attendees enjoyed a buffet luncheon, Dr. Law, who was received with a standing ovation, addressed the group of students, instructors and honored guests. His engaging talk ran the gamut of emotions, from funny to serious to emotional. Public Policy Program Instructor-in-Charge Jeff Kronschnabl said he asked Dr. Law to speak because of his history of support for the program.
“Dr. Law was one of the main founders and an instrumental supporter of our program,” Kronschnabl said. “We appreciate his enthusiasm and just wanted to say thank you for all he’s done for our program and our students.”
Law advised Public Policy students on working in the public sector, stressing the importance of transparency and accountability, especially in light of Florida’s Sunshine Laws. “I have never been disappointed by sharing information with the public,” he said. “I would rather people get real information.”
Law discussed challenges he faced when he first took the helm of the college. One was managing the rapid growth of the college with scant resources, which brought about his One College plan, which united the practices of all campuses under one umbrella.
“We were one college, so we needed one game plan,” he said. “If we all work together, the tide rises all boats.”
Law also discussed his implementation of the College Experience, which integrated individualized learning plans, enhanced orientation, expanded career advising and learning support along with an early alert system for students at risk of giving up.
After Dr. Law’s address, several graduates stood and thanked Dr. Law and SPC for the support they received as students. Program Graduate Velma Thompson said she had been a returning student, looking lost on campus one day when Dr. Law spotted her and asked if he could help.
“He gave me his card that day and told me to let him know if I needed anything,” she said. “And I texted him once with a question, and he answered.”
Public Safety, Public Policy and Legals Studies Dean Dr. Susan Demers then spoke, reinforcing Dr. Law’s comments at the Leadership Speaker Series.
“Details matter,” she said. “A plan matters; and community matters.”
Dr. Demers then thanked SPC Policy Consultant Tom Furlong and Dr. Law for implementing the Public Policy program and their belief in its potential for growth.
“It’s easy to implement a program with 100 students,” she said. “Not one with 12.”
Dr. Demers encouraged students to utilize all the networking resources available to them through the program, including internships and the people they meet at the Leadership Speaker Series luncheons, and challenged them to make their marks in the community.
“As a community college, your commitment to our community is where you’ll make us proud,” she said.
As the Leadership Speaker Series luncheon came to a close, Dr. Law was presented with a large bouquet of flowers and a binder of thank-you letters from past and present students.
Kronschnabl said he knew that attending current students were affected by Law’s talk.
“Our students were able to see his vision of helping students find a career path and better their families, and they saw that they are actually living out that vision,” he