A new day literally dawned July 1 for Lena Copeland and her aspirations.

That’s when Brevard Community College (BCC) became Eastern Florida State College (EFSC) to reflect its expanding mission to start offering bachelor’s degrees and provide more opportunities for students to advance their education and improve their lives.

“This is an exciting chance for me to move forward in my career,” said Copeland, a mother of three who plans to pursue a four-year Bachelor of Applied Science degree in general business management.  “The fact I can stay in Brevard to get the degree is huge. I’ll be able to remain close to my family and the tuition is something I can afford. I’m really glad the college is moving in this direction.”

Copeland’s comments are typical of the strong community support the college is receiving as it enters the next chapter in its 53-year history with the same commitment to excellence that has made it among the top community colleges in the nation – a commitment that has Eastern Florida focused on the dual mission of student success and acting as a catalyst for economic growth in Brevard and Central Florida.

“I’m excited about the future because Eastern Florida State College is more than a name,” said Eastern Florida President Dr. Jim Richey. “It’s a promise we’ve made to serve the community in new ways that will benefit everyone.”

Hitting the Target

The move from BCC to EFSC is the result of more than three years of outreach by college officials that found backing from students and business leaders to achieve two goals:

• Provide students with degrees for in-demand jobs that will increase their chance of employment upon graduation in a rapidly changing global economy.

• Supply local and regional business with the 21st century workforce they need to grow in the post-recession, post-space shuttle era.

Working with 3,000 business owners and leaders, college officials selected ten bachelor degree tracks in business management, health care and information technologies that met those targets.

The first two programs will begin in August 2013 and another eight are scheduled to start in August 2014.

The four-year degrees will be highly attractive to students for numerous reasons, one of which includes cost, with tuition at EFSC lower than that at other four-year public and private universities in the area.

The four-year degrees also will:

• Allow students to stay close to their homes and families, making it easier for those who are working their way through college to continue their education;

• Provide people already in the workforce the chance to learn new skills without leaving Brevard; and

• Ensure students will continue benefiting from the small classroom size and personalized instruction that have long been hallmarks at the college.

Importantly, the college will also continue to offer its traditional curriculum of more than 100 associate degrees and certificate programs, including several new two-year degrees starting this year in fields such as cyber security.

New Regional Brand

The heightened academic status that comes with the bachelor’s degrees transformed BCC into a state college, thus requiring the name change. College officials reached deeply into the community to gather perceptions about the college that could be used to help attract students, build business partnerships and enhance academic programs.

More than 300 people participated through written surveys, focus groups and the college’s Facebook page. They represented key stakeholders including Brevard business and community leaders, elected officials, and BCC faculty, staff, students and alumni.

Several key factors led to selecting the name, Eastern Florida State College. Focus groups showed prospective students wanted a name that went beyond Brevard’s borders and spoke to the larger world in which they live and the global economy that awaits them. Furthermore, many business and civic leaders wanted a name that elevated the college on a regional level, and could help the college advance its role in creating jobs and attracting new industry.

“Those two factors stood out strongly,” Richey explained. “Both groups were looking at new horizons for the college and wanted us to do the same. They very were enthusiastic about our expanding mission.

Economic Clout

That enthusiasm is based in part on the college’s significant economic clout. A new study shows Eastern Florida State College boosts the local and regional economies nearly $1.1 billion a year, with graduates earning higher incomes and the college serving as a driver of economic growth.

The report was conducted as part of a statewide study done on the economic impact of the 28-member Florida College System, of which EFSC is a member.

“The study proves the college is a powerhouse that plays a vital role in fueling the Brevard and Central Florida economies. It confirms we’re on the right path,” Richey observed. “Those benefits will mount as we offer additional degrees. The more opportunities we offer students, the more they and our community will prosper.”

 

The economic impact study found:

• EFSC operations add nearly $68.2 million a year through payroll and the purchases of goods and services, stimulating the economy and increasing profits for local businesses.

• EFSC graduates contribute $991 million a year through their earnings, spending and using their education to contribute to the success of area business and industry.

• EFSC graduates earn more money, with associate degree graduates earning an average $43,100 annually, and bachelor’s degree graduates earning an average $61,800 per year.

• Most EFSC graduates remain in Brevard, with 75 percent staying here, using their skills to help bring new industry to the area.

As the Eastern Florida State College era begins, its new motto sums up its promise to students and the community: Explore. Achieve. Succeed.

“It’s a vow we intend to keep in helping individuals and Brevard reach their goals,” Richey concluded. “The college’s best days are ahead of it.”