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Farewell, MCC ... hello, State College of Florida

MANATEE — Manatee Community College today is officially changing its name to State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota.

The day is a historic one for the college, chartered in 1957 as Manatee Junior College. It holds the distinction of being the area’s first public institution of higher education.

Now it operates three campuses — Bradenton, Lakewood Ranch and Venice — and boasts an enrollment of 11,000.

The name change also signifies a change in its mission: SCF is joining the ranks of colleges that will offer both two-year and four-year degrees, with its first baccalaureate program in nursing slated to begin in January.

So, how do students feel about the name change? In interviews Tuesday at the Bradenton campus, they seemed positive.

“I like it,” said Alex Kelly, 19, of Bradenton. “It gives it more of a persona, more of a feeling. It just feels right for it.”

As for the college itself, Kelly was equally complimentary.

“It’s convenient, it’s close, the staff’s great, everybody likes the name,” he added.

Juan Pesina, 18, of Sarasota, said he liked the new name and thought it represented a step up in prestige for the school.

“I think it’s exciting,” he noted. “The college is now going to become a four-year college, in the early stages of possibly becoming one of the next big state colleges.”

Brittany Brooks, 21, of Bradenton, said she is still adjusting to the name change.

“I think it’s different, but I’m still going to be used to it being called ‘Manatee Community College,’” she said. “The name only will be the difference — the school will be the same.”

“It’s been great,” she added.

Brian Burney, 17, of Bradenton, said he thought the name change represented “a big success for MCC.”

“The school’s getting better and better” he said.

College President Lars A. Hafner was surveying the campus Tuesday as workmen removed the old “MCC” signs and replaced them with signs that read “SCF.”

What he has experienced among staff, faculty and students is “excitement and enthusiasm,” he said.

He laughed when remembering what a group of students he met at the Student Union had asked about the name change: They wanted to know how they might become the first student to get a SCF diploma.

“‘December will be the first time,’” Hafner told them.

As for the general atmosphere on campus on the last day before the name change became official, he said, “There is an extra bounce in the employees’ steps today. It’s been wonderful.”

Along that line, the college was recently listed in Community College Week magazine among the top 100 associate degree producers in the nation, in three categories, according to Jessica Klipa, the college’s public information coordinator.

In a June report published in the biweekly magazine, SCF ranked 91st in the “all disciplines” listing, for awarding 1,304 degrees; it ranked 36th in “liberal arts and sciences, general students, and humanities;” and 44th for awarding 156 associate degrees in nursing, she said.

Results were based on data gathered by the U.S. Department of Education, for both two- and four-year institutions, she added.

A few other “fast facts” about the college:

n In 1958, the college’s doors opened to the first 502 students in borrowed space in an aging high school in Bradenton. In 1959, students moved to the 100-acre original campus at 5840 26th St. W., in southwest Manatee near Sarasota Bay, convenient to students from both Manatee and Sarasota counties.

n In 1985, Manatee Junior College was renamed “Manatee Community College.” During the same year, the Venice campus was dedicated.

n The Center for Innovation and Technology, the school’s third campus at Lakewood Ranch, opened in 2003.

n Nearly 35,000 students have graduated from the college in its 52-year history.

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at (941) 708-7908 or at skennedy@bradenton.com

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