Florence, S.C. – One year has passed since Dr. Jermaine Ford took over as Florence-Darlington Technical College President and in that short amount of time the college has seen some major changes including an increase in fall to fall enrollment, a new strategic plan, increased donations, an increase in morale on campus, and, the most visual of these changes, the restoration of the colleges 5000 Building Bridge.
“It’s a new day at Florence-Darlington Technical College,” Ford said. “Upon my arrival, I realized that we needed to revitalize interaction with our market, our community, and our stakeholders. This bridge symbolizes the work that we have been doing. It’s been a long process, but I think people are finally starting to see that things are changing at Florence-Darlington Technical College and they want to be a part of it.”
FDTC officially reopened their 5000 Building bridge during a ribbon cutting ceremony on Tuesday, November 29. They had several speakers including Ford, FDTC Area Commissioner’s Chair Paul Seward, and the FDTC Student Government Association President Letia James.
As to the other changes on campus, Ford’s words can be directly reflected in the numbers, as the college saw its first increase in fall to fall enrollment in more than five years with a 3.6 percent increase.
“This increase is a direct reflection of the FDTC team coming together and realigning our goals of student success and workforce development,” Ford said.
Those two goals were selected as the focus of the college's new strategic plan, “The Road to 2027: Committed to Student Success and Workforce Development” which was completed earlier this summer. Upon arrival, Ford realized the college needed a strategic plan to serve as its North Star over the next five years.
The college involved a total of 108 local stakeholders in a series of discovery sessions and individual strategic planning interviews in April. Participants included faculty, staff, workforce development leaders, business and industry representatives, members of the FDTC Area Commission, students and alumni. Their job was to create a cohesive and visionary pathway for FDTC’s future.
“We are one college with many programs and campuses, and we wanted everyone including members of our extended community to be married to our new goals and vision,” Ford said. “By putting this group together, we were able to create this comprehensive plan that truly focuses on the student and their experience. That’s our goal and that is now our plan for success.”
As the plan emerged, it introduced five new strategic pillars that will create the foundation for the college’s planning efforts moving forward. Those pillars included student success, relevance, fiscal environment, visibility, and engagement. The strategic planning team also created seven core values including accountability, excellence, innovation, integrity, leadership, teamwork, and communication.
Those pillars and values will inform the process over the next few months as master plans are developed campus wide with specifics for such key elements as academics, facilities, institutional advancement, information technology, marketing, quality enhancement, enrollment, and workforce development.
“As the President of Florence-Darlington Technical College, I am extremely pleased with the outcome of the new strategic plan, mission, vision, and values and the five new strategic pillars designed to guide our work over the next five years,” Dr. Ford said. “Through this new strategic plan, we will continue to fulfill our promise to the Pee Dee Region that FDTC is where our students can learn locally and earn globally.”
With a new strategic plan in place, the college has also begun to work on building moral for its employees. Through a series of on-campus committees, employees were given a chance to express changes they want to see across a litany of topics. These committees then had the opportunity to report their findings in a public forum for all college employees.
“We are creating an environment where employees feel empowered to share their ideas to help us make FDTC a world-class college,” Ford said. “It’s important that they know we listen to their ideas and we actually take action on them.”
Ford added several more exciting changes are on the way, but the work is not done yet.
"The future looks exceptionally bright for Florence-Darlington Technical College, and we will continue our collegewide effort to build a high-performance culture where everyone is accountable for student success and workforce development,” he said.