Dr. Jackson Sasser, President, Santa Fe College
The spirit of a people defines a place. When I arrived in Gainesville almost 16 years ago, I was immediately impressed by the warmth and energy of its residents. The people of this city and surrounding region possess an indomitable sense of optimism that never fails to inspire me. They proudly devote themselves to intellectual pursuits and enthusiastically embrace an ethos of community service. Their spirit is the force that propelled Santa Fe College as it grew into one of the most successful community colleges in the nation.
Santa Fe College was a leader in higher education long before it won the 2015 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence as the nation’s number one college. Back in 1968, just two years after opening its doors, Santa Fe was one of a dozen colleges to establish the League for Innovation in the Community College, a select group of institutions nationwide that set the standard for accomplishment in higher education.
Most of Santa Fe’s founders were also members of the community, so it became a joint vision. We wanted to provide opportunities for people from all backgrounds to thrive, raise healthy families and lead productive, fulfilling lives. Santa Fe was created with that purpose in mind and we have lived up to our promise. Our students receive an outstanding education, whether they are pursuing a degree, enhancing their job skills or seeking personal growth. We graduate citizens who are engaged in their careers and communities, making meaningful and enduring contributions.
We serve lifelong education needs even as the pace of change in our society continues to accelerate. Like the community, Santa Fe is constantly reinventing itself to provide students with new opportunities that include bachelor’s degrees, articulation agreements allowing transfer to more state universities and comprehensive international educational experiences essential for today’s global economy. Santa Fe’s high expectations and commitment to student success serves graduates well, no matter what their path. Many choose to remain right here in this community. No college has closer relationships with our great partner in higher education, the University of Florida. Our graduates who transfer to UF perform superbly at Gainesville’s world-class university and go on to pursue careers that are professionally and personally rewarding.
They become educators, artists, hardworking public servants and leaders in engineering and information technology. They continue to confirm the values and vision embodied by Santa Fe’s earliest leaders when they established what truly has become our community’s college.