Polk State College President Angela Garcia Falconetti is visiting each of the College’s six campuses and centers this week to get answers to some very important questions.
She wants to hear from students, faculty, and staff about what they love about Polk State, as well as what they think her focus should be during her first year as president.
In the first of six forums, Falconetti heard from more than 30 students Wednesday at the Polk State JD Alexander Center about their love for their professors and desire for better transportation and a larger facility. She also heard from faculty and staff about adding more full-time faculty and the undeniable pride at Polk State.
Falconetti will hold forums Thursday at Polk State Airside-West and Polk State Lakeland, and Friday at Polk State Winter Haven, Polk State Clear Springs Advanced Technology Center, and Polk State Center for Public Safety.
Responses to Falconetti’s questions will be summarized in a report and will be considered for incorporation into the College’s strategic plan.
“I’m fortunate to serve the College, but I can’t do it without all of you,” Falconetti said. “I need to know where you see the future of our institution going.”
What do students, faculty, and staff love about Polk State? Falconetti heard at the Polk State JD Alexander Center forum that they love that faculty and staff “bend over backwards” to help students. They love Polk State’s small class sizes; access to administrators; diversity of students; honesty, integrity, and openness of the students; and the pride for Polk State that is found throughout Polk County.
What do they think Polk State does exceptionally well? Employ highly-skilled professors and tutors who care. Students, faculty, and staff also praised Polk State’s ability to work collaboratively within its different departments, as well as with the community.
How do they think Polk State can become stronger? Increase the awareness with other colleges and universities about Polk State’s ability to prepare students for high-skill, high-wage jobs. Students at the Polk State JD Alexander Center would like to have more classes offered on site so that they do not need to travel to the Winter Haven and Lakeland campuses.
What do they think is needed to take Polk State to the next level? Provide more options for bachelors degrees and the ability for students to complete their associate and bachelor’s degrees fully at the Polk State JD Alexander Center.
What do they think Falconetti’s focus should be during her first year as president? Students, faculty, and staff at the Polk State JD Alexander Center forum think the Lake Wales site needs more attention. They suggested the College consider implementing its own transportation system that would offer free rides to students to and from the six campuses and centers. Other suggestions included fundraising, reviewing the pay scale for faculty and staff, and implementing more full-time professors.
“Everything you’ve said today will be taken into consideration,” Falconetti said.
Students’ impressions of Falconetti were that she is honest, caring, and trying to help.
“She seems to have a vision and wants to help with the problems we have right now,” said Maretha Barnett, who is working toward her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.
Jake Wojtanowski, a student working toward his Associate in Arts degree, said he would encourage students to attend the remaining forums to voice their concerns about what is going on at their campuses, as well as to get to know the College’s president.
“It’s encouraging to see the president engaged with the students,” Wojtanowski said. “It shows that she cares.”
Falconetti said she looks forward to hearing from more students, faculty, and staff this week.
“I really hope throughout the forums, I get to know them, and they get to know me,” Falconetti said.
“They shouldn’t worry that they’re going to be the odd one out who upsets the president with their comments – I want them to be open and honest with me so that we can move Polk State forward in the right direction.”
Students, faculty, and staff are invited to the following forums:
Thursday, Sept. 28
Polk State Airside-West
1 – 2 p.m. | ASL 150
Polk State Lakeland
3 – 4 p.m. | LAC 1133 (Student Center)
Friday, Sept. 29
Polk State Winter Haven
9 – 10 a.m. | WLR 102
Polk State Clear Springs Advanced Technology Center
11 a.m. – noon | Mosaic Auditorium
Polk State Center for Public Safety
2 – 3 p.m. | CPS 154