By B.C. Manion
The region will usher in a new chapter in its educational history on May 1 when Rasmussen College opens its new campus at Sunlake Boulevard and SR 54.
Claire Walker, campus president for the Pasco County campuses of Rasmussen College, outlined the college’s plans for the campus at a Central Pasco Chamber of Commerce luncheon last week.
The college’s new 25,000-square-foot building will begin offering online and traditional courses in August, Walker said. It has schools of nursing, health science, tech and design, business, education and justice studies.
The new campus is situated between the Suncoast Parkway and Interstate 75, making it convenient for residents in Pasco and Hillsborough counties. It also will provide a straight shot into Hillsborough County when the Sunlake Boulevard extension is completed in future years.
The campus will offer a broad range of courses. Some will be taught on campus, some will be online and some will combine online and classroom learning.
“If you’re looking to return to school, or someone you know is starting out in their educational career, we probably have a program that they can take,” Walker said.
Rasmussen College pays close attention to the needs of employers in the communities it serves. It wants to provide relevant coursework and to ensure its students are prepared to meet existing needs in the work place, Walker said.
“One of the things I think is important for you to understand is that we always meet the needs of our communities,” Walker said. “So, for example, Sunlake High School has a finance academy, so we obviously want to follow that finance academy student into a bachelor’s degree, or get them interested in our new accounting degree,” Walker said.
“Pasco County has done a phenomenal job over the course of many years at creating academies in their high schools that track students specifically in their careers,” she said. “We actually articulate with those high schools to make sure that the students comes in with some credit from their high school degree,” Walker said.
The college is thrilled to be opening a campus at the SR 54 and Sunlake Boulevard location, Walker said. The site is across the road from a 72-acre site where T. Rowe Price plans to build office complex that may one day employ up to 1,600 workers.
“We wanted to be where the growth potential would be in the future, meeting the needs of the new communities and new employers and the new student population coming out of these high schools and our new communities out there,” she said.
The private, 110-year-old college has 21 campuses throughout the country. It has invested heavily in Pasco County, Walker said.
“When you think of a college, you think of its students. But our next biggest stakeholder is all of you, sitting in this room.
“You are the employers. You’re the people who take our students as graduates and make them successful as a community member.
“So, we partner with you more than we partner with anyone. It’s important that our students are ready, ready for the next round of positions to be open.
The campus is a startup operation and will begin with a small staff of about 10 people within the first few months, Walker said. Transferring staff members will fill about half of those positions. At full capacity, the campus is expected to serve about 1,000 students and to have 50-60 staff members.
For additional information about the Rasmussen College, go to www.Rasmussen.edu.
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