State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota has big plans for the northern end of its coverage area — fast growing Parrish in northwestern Manatee County. An additional campus in Parrish, part of the school’s 2015 to 2020 strategic plan, is now at high priority level, SCF President Carol Probstfeld tells Coffee Talk.
The college purchased 74 acres for the campus in September 2017. Now, Probstfeld says, it’s in the process of going through development plan review with county officials.
Through focus groups, the college is also developing a plan that includes programs Parrish residents specifically want to see at the campus. What came out of the sessions related to potential degree programs included general education, dual enrollment, agribusiness and environmental science.
In the next academic year, SCF will have a presence in the area by offering noncredit classes near the future campus site. “We want to establish our presence while we’re in the process of building out the campus,” Probstfeld says.
SCF plans to build the Parrish campus in three phases. The first phase is expected to break ground three to five years from now and is estimated to cost $15 million to $20 million. “If I could raise some money sooner, I’d do it sooner,” she says. “It’s our tradition at the college to have all money on hand before we sign construction contracts.”
The college is no stranger to construction. It opened a new library and learning center at its Bradenton campus in 2018, for one. “We’re very cost effective in our construction,” Probstfeld says. “We built our library for 26% less than the state average. We’re getting greatest bang for the buck that we can.”
It also aims to get bank for its buck in terms of community impact. As a way to get its arms around where the greatest growth was going to be in its service area, SCF worked with Manatee and Sarasota counties to determine the locations of new homesites. That led the college to Parrish.
“I am very excited about this, and I think it’s incumbent upon me and my administration and board to take this college to the next place, just like our predecessors before us did," Probstfeld says.