Meet Eastern Florida State College's President

jim richey

Dr. James H. Richey is President of Eastern Florida State College.

He was named to the position January 23, 2012, by the Board of Trustees, and is the sixth permanent chief executive to lead the college since it opened in 1960 as Brevard Junior College and later became Brevard Community College.

Richey held several key posts at Eastern Florida before his selection as president.

The Board of Trustees named him Interim President in October 2011 following the retirement of Dr. Jim Drake, who had led the College since 2006.

Richey served as Executive Vice President and General Counsel prior to the appointment.

Richey’s association with the College began when he was appointed to the Board of Trustees by Gov. Charlie Crist in July 2007. He left the board to accept the position of College Internal Counsel in April 2008.

He was named Vice President of Business Affairs and General Counsel in October 2008 before he assumed the Executive Vice President and General Counsel‘s post.

Upon becoming president, Richey immediately began expanding the College’s academic mission to include offering four-year Bachelor Degrees in the fields of business, health care and computer information technologies.

The move transformed what had been Brevard Community College into Eastern Florida State College on July 1, 2013.

The College will offer 17 Bachelor’s Degree tracks in 2018, with 1,900 bachelor's-level students enrolled during the current academic year.

In all, the College has launched more than 40 new academic programs in the past five years following input from many business owners and leaders in Brevard County and Central Florida.

The goal was to design programs that would provide students with in-demand jobs upon graduation, and provide businesses with the 21th century workforce they need.

“Our four-year programs are making an important difference in peoples’ lives, giving them the opportunity to advance their careers and giving business and industry the skilled employees they need to grow in the global economy,” says Richey.

“The impact will resonate for generations to come, benefiting individuals, their families and the state of Florida.”

The College has also made major strides in online learning, with more than 250 courses and nearly 25 Bachelor’s Degrees, Associate’s Degree and College Certificates offered completely online.

The new degrees are increasing Eastern Florida State College’s nearly $1.1 billion annual economic impact to the Brevard and Central Florida economies.

For example, a 2013 study showed that graduates from Eastern Florida with an Associate's Degree go on to earn an average of $43,100 annually. Bachelor's Degree graduates can expect to earn an average of $61,800 annually.

Richey launched another major initiative in 2014 to expand the Melbourne Campus with several new academic buildings to make it a vibrant center of higher education and workforce development well into the 21st century.

The plan is moving forward quickly thanks to support from the Florida Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott.

A new $20 million Public Safety Institute opened in January 2015 to train law enforcement officers and others in criminal justice fields, and a new $20 million Health Sciences Institute opened in January 2017 to educate students in 12 healthcare fields.

Meanwhile, a new $9.5 million Student Union is scheduled to open in 2018 that will serve as a center for student life.

Other new buildings planned include a Center for Innovative Technology Education to train students for high tech industries, and a Student Housing complex.

Still more new facilities opened during Richey's tenure include:

  • A Fire Training Center on the Palm Bay Campus that trains firefighters for all 13 Brevard County cities and Brevard Fire-Rescue,
  • An Advanced Manufacturing Center on the Cocoa campus that trains workers for local and regional manufacturing companies and
  •  An Aviation Center at Melbourne International Airport that trains students to become aviation and aerospace technicians and mechanics.

Eastern Florida State College serves about 25,000 students annually and consistently ranks among the top colleges in Florida and the nation.

In 2017, it earned a prestigious Gold Rating from the Florida Board of Education for its performance in helping students succeed.

The College earned high grades in:

  • Student retention rates,
  • Student completion rates,
  • Students attaining jobs after graduation or continuing their education and
  • Wages for graduates in entry-level jobs

The College also ranks high among 1,200 similarly-sized colleges in the nation, according to 2016 data from the U.S. Department of Education. National rankings include:

  • 36th in awarding Associate Degrees in all disciplines
  • 14th in awarding Associate Degrees in Liberal Arts, General Studies, Sciences and Humanities
  • 28th in awarding Associate Degrees in Science Technologies and Technicians

Furthermore, the College has not raised tuition for six straight years, making it among the most affordable institutions of higher education in the U.S.

Beyond his executive duties, Richey has spent time in the classroom as an adjunct professor. He taught a 2011 course on wills and trusts and is certified to teach an additional 19 courses in the fields of law and criminal justice.

Prior to coming to the College, Richey owned his own law practice in Melbourne, Fla., from 1994 to 2008. His work included advising businesses on contract negotiations, employment policies, employee benefits, corporate governance and charitable giving programs.

In 1995, he successfully argued a case before the Florida Supreme Court.

Richey earned a Bachelor’s Degree in accounting from Michigan State University in 1985 and a Juris Doctorate Degree from Ohio State University in 1988.

He is also admitted to practice law in Massachusetts, is a member of the United States Tax Court, Florida Bar Association and Judicial Nominating Commission for the Fifth District Court of Appeal, and is former chair of the Grievance Committee of the 18th Circuit Judicial Court.

In addition, Richey is master of the Vassar B. Carlton American-Inn of Court and former trustee of the Holy Name of Jesus Church Educational Endowment Fund.

Richey and his wife, Suzanne, are the parents of three children — Bradley, Allison and Bethany. He lives in Melbourne Beach, Fla.