Paul Broadie II, Ph.D., has completed an eventful first year as president of Santa Fe College. After being unanimously selected by the District Board of Trustees in late 2019, Dr. Broadie assumed the presidency in February 2020 following the retirement of Dr. Jackson Sasser. President Broadie promised to build upon the foundations laid by his predecessors and work toward shattering equity gaps, advancing workforce development programs and making the dream of a college education a reality to as many people possible in the region. Then came the COVID-19 pandemic.
Just six weeks after starting at SF, Dr. Broadie adeptly navigated the college through the challenges brought on by the crisis. Many faculty members spent a weekend in mid-March changing the delivery of their classes from traditional in-person instruction to strictly online. Both faculty and staff members quickly adapted to providing student services remotely, utilizing Zoom and Teams – assets that seem almost commonplace today, but in those first few weeks of shutdowns seemed daunting to many.
During this time, Dr. Broadie had to be chief administrator of the college, while learning who worked at the college, what services they perform and how best to keep SF’s fundamental mission of educating the students continuing as smoothly as possible.
Despite the challenges, Dr. Broadie continued to advance the college by working with employees and others across the college to provide weekly video updates, secured laptops that could be loaned to students taking online classes, loaned necessary PPE to area first responders while students were not able to access onsite college facilities, allowed students who owed fees of less than $200 to register for fall classes, and developed a plan to safely bring students back to onsite instruction.
The past year also saw the old Center for Innovation and Economic Development (CIED) building on University Avenue come down and the beginning of the construction of Blount Hall begin. The new facility will open in the spring of 2022 as a key part of the Blount Campus in downtown Gainesville. The new facility will create closer access to a college degree for people in the downtown area whose travel to SF’s Northwest Campus may be burdensome. The year wrapped up with the announcement that SF received $40 million – the largest-ever single donation – from MacKenzie Scott. Dr. Broadie and the college VPs are developing a plan to use the funding to create additional opportunities that will transform lives and lift people out of poverty.
It was a fascinating first year for President Broadie, who remains steadfastly committed to expanding the college’s reach into the community. We look forward to new directions and initiatives!