Pasco-Hernando State College grew out of humble origins.
“We were known as ‘College without Walls,’” said Dr. Timothy Beard, the college’s current president. “We didn’t have a building. All we had, for the most part, was a dream and an idea.
“They would have classes with whoever would have us, whether it was a storefront. We would recruit in the back alleys,” he said.
“We were the last of the Great 28,” Beard added, referring to Florida’s system of 28 community colleges.
Dr. Robert Judson — the man who would become the college’s second president and the first black college president in Florida College System— was involved in those early days, as a teacher and as a recruiter.
Over the years, Pasco-Hernando Community College transitioned to Pasco-Hernando State College. It has added campuses, increased staff, expanded programs, and continues to grow and evolve.
The college now has about 100 career program options and offers two bachelor’s programs, associate’s diplomas and various certifications.
In the early days, the college had strong ties with the faith communities in Pasco and Hernando counties, helping it to attract students, Beard said.
In recent years, it has revived relationships with faith-based institutions.
“About five years ago, maybe six, we started a program called LIFE, that’s an acronym for Linking in Faith and Education. That program really took off overnight.
“The idea was to allow the faith-based institutions to assist us in educating our community.
“Because word got out about our success, we also started to include partners in the healthcare area. A number of healthcare agencies got involved,” the college president said.
For instance, BayCare and AdventHealth both provide scholarships to nursing students who are willing to work in the community after they graduate, he said.
The college also collaborates with the Pasco and Hernando public school districts.
In addition to dual enrollment programs, which allow high school students to earn college credits, PHSC also has been involved in partnerships on construction projects.
In Pasco County, for instance, the school district donated the site where the Instructional Performing Arts Center was built, at 8657 Old Pasco Road. It shares a campus with Cypress Creek High and Cypress Creek Middle in Wesley Chapel.
Pasco students also can take advantage of IPAC programs and facilities.
In Hernando County, PHSC has been involved in a partnership for a project known as the Corporate College.
“We’re in the process of building a Corporate College, out of a partnership with Hernando County Schools, as well as the county administration there,” Beard said.
Meanwhile the college continues to add facilities to its existing campuses.
The college received a state allocation of around $25 million to construct the STEM Student Success and Community Engagement Center on its East Campus, in Dade City.
The design work is happening now, with actual construction expected to begin in January and the project’s completion slated for early 2024, Beard said.
The 51,000-square-foot building will have an auditorium, house various student services and academic support programs and have a STEM center, he said.
The college also is adding a new Fire Academy Center to train firefighters, also at the East Campus, Beard said.
Over the years, the college has hosted public speakers, local events, summits and other activities to share its facilities with the broader community.
And now, as it commemorates its golden anniversary this academic year, it is inviting the public to join in the celebration.
Festivities kick off on Sept. 17, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the East Campus, 36727 Blanton Road, in Dade City. It’s fitting to begin there because the college has its roots in East Pasco, Beard said.
The college president also said there’s good cause for celebration.
“I am so proud of this institution and its history, and those in the community that have supported us, as a college,” Beard said. “It has been a gem in our community that has made the difference and transformed the lives of so many students.”
50th ANNIVERSARY FESTIVITIES
Pasco-Hernando State College (PHSC) has scheduled several celebration to mark the college’s golden anniversary year. (Note: Any prospective student filling out an application on a campus during the anniversary festivities will have the application fee waived.)
Here are the scheduled events:
- Sept. 17, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the East Campus, 36727 Blanton Road, in Dade City. This event, during Hispanic Heritage Month, will feature the flavors and sounds of Latin culture. Guest speakers will explore local history and Hispanic culture, and there will be entertainment, family activities and food.
- Nov. 5, 10 .m. to 2 p.m., in the Quad at PHSC West Campus, 10230 Ridge Road, in New Port Richey: This event will have a fall festival vibe with music from DJ Jose Nix, a photobooth, activities, food, treats, goodie bags for children, and a casual mile-long walk on the tree-lined trail circling the campus.
- Feb. 25, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Porter Campus at Wiregrass Ranch, 2727 Mansfield Blvd., in Wesley Chapel. View an exhibit of Florida Highwaymen Painters’ collection and learn about the Florida Community Colleges. There will be food, children’s activities and more. This event coincides with Black History Month and will highlight African-American medical innovations.
- Feb. 25, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Instructional Performing Arts Center, 8657 Old Pasco Road in Wesley Chapel. Take tours of the theater, dance, music and digital design programs and enjoy an evening of music and entertainment. The University of South Florida Jazz Under The Starz will pay tribute to Florida’s African-American entertainers and Tampa’s famous Jackson House entertainers. Light refreshments will be served.
- March 18, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., PHSC North Campus, 11415 Ponce De Leon Blvd, in Brooksville. A carnival setting featuring “fair food,” a bounce house, games, prizes and music make this event family-friendly. This event coincides with Women’s History Month and will feature a panel discussion on the countless contributions made by courageous women throughout the ages.
- April 1, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., PHSC Spring Hill campus, at 450 Beverly Court. There will be entertainment by local theater and dance groups, campus tours, tours of student art exhibit and the butterfly garden and presentations about Florida sustainability and gardening. Free native Florida plant seeds will be distributed.
A few key milestones
1972: Pasco-Hernando Community Colleges opents. It becomes the last of Florida’s system of 28 community colleges
1972: Milton Jones is named the college’s first president
2014: College opens Porter Campus at Wiregrass Ranch, on land donated by the Porter family
2014: Pasco-Hernando Community College transitions to Pasco-Hernando State College. It also adds two four-year bachelor’s degree programs
2021: The Instructional Performing Arts Center, at 8657 Old Pasco Road, begins operation on the campus of Cypress Creek High School and Cypress Creek Middle, in Wesley Chapel.
2022: College breaks ground for its new STEM Center for Student Success and Community on its East Campus, in Dade City
BY THE NUMBERS
4: Presidents during the college’s history (Milton Jones, 1972 to 1994; Robert Judson Jr., 1994 to 2005; Katherine Johnson, 2005 to 2015; and, Timothy Beard, 2015 to present)
6: Campus locations: New Port Richey, Dade City, Spring Hill, Brooksville and two in Wesley Chapel (Porter Campus at Wiregrass Ranch and Instructional Performing Arts Center)
$450 million: Contributed to the regional economy annually
100-plus: Degrees and certifications offered
1.000: Approximate number of full-time, part-time and adjuncts
14,000-plus: Students served annually
60,000: Number of diplomas and certifications awarded since the college’s inception
Source: Pasco-Hernando State College
Published September 14, 2022