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EFSC Kicks Off 60th Anniversary Celebration

January 13, 2020 - Eastern Florida State College is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year as a leader in Florida higher education, serving students and the Space Coast community.

The college will mark the occasion with campus and community events, with the anniversary getting underway this week with students starting the Spring Term.

“The college has been known by several names since 1960 but our mission has remained the same in providing students an excellent education that can lead to great careers,” said college President Dr. Jim Richey.

“That commitment is shown every day by our faculty and staff who do everything possible to help students succeed and build productive lives.

“We’re honored to serve them and all the residents of the Space Coast. Our celebration is the community’s celebration as well.”

students at Cocoa Campus of Brevard Junior College in 1965
Students walk to class in 1965 shortly after Brevard Junior College moved to an 87-acre site on the shores of Clear Lake in Cocoa, still the Cocoa home of EFSC today.

The college was founded in 1960 as Brevard Junior College with the first students and faculty members meeting in the old Cocoa High School building, since demolished.

A key factor in its inception was the dawn of the Space Age and helping train workers for NASA and the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs.

Also established in 1960 was Carver Junior College, another two-year institution that provided educational opportunities to African-American residents of Brevard County.

In 1963, the two schools integrated and moved to 87 acres adjacent to Clear Lake in Cocoa, the present site of the Cocoa Campus.

At the time, the college consisted of one small building located on a former landfill accessed on a dirt road.

The Melbourne Campus opened in 1972, the Titusville Campus in 1973 and the Palm Bay Campus in 1990.

The college was renamed Brevard Community College in 1970 when the state of Florida created a system of two-year colleges.

It became Eastern Florida State College in 2013 when it began offering Bachelor’s Degrees for the first time in its history.

More than 120,000 students have earned their degrees since the first classes were held six decades ago.

Today, about 20,000 students annually attend classes on the four campuses and via Eastern Florida Online.

The college began the most rapid expansion in its history in 2012 when Dr. Jim Richey became its seventh president, pledging to make it a regional center for workforce development in the 21st century.

Since then, the college has made significant progress, launching more than 60 new academic programs, including nearly 25 Bachelor Degree tracks.

Nursing students at EFSC Health Sciences Institute
Students practice nursing skills with an instrumented patient simulator at the EFSC Health Sciences Institute, which opened on the Melbourne campus in 2017.

It has done so in close cooperation with business and industry, providing companies in Brevard and East-Central Florida with skilled employees. Most of the programs are in the fast-growth job fields of Business, Health Care and Computer Technology.

The college has also made a major investment in new academic facilities, including a Public Safety Institute, Health Sciences Institute and Advanced Manufacturing Center.

Among a range of other advances are specialized labs for health care, computer forensics, robotics, mechatronics, and a Fire Training Center.

In 2017, the college was awarded a prestigious Gold Rating for Outstanding Performance from the Florida Board of Education, putting it in the top tier of public colleges and universities in Florida.

It was cited for high student retention rates, graduation rates, job placement and continuing education after graduation, and entry-level wages after graduation.

The college has also continued its commitment to keeping higher education affordable by not raising tuition for eight straight years, and using the EFSC Foundation to award more student scholarships.

As a result, EFSC is consistently ranked among the most affordable colleges in Florida and the nation.

Another important factor has been the addition of specialized services to help students select the right career and keep them on track to graduate.

They include a Career Planning and Development Center to prepare them for the workplace, a Military and Veterans Service Center tailored to the needs of veterans and active duty personal, and Core Scholar tutoring programs.

A strong emphasis has also been placed on internships and apprenticeships to give students valuable on-the-job experience before they leave campus.

For example, apprenticeships through the college’s Aerospace and Engineering Technology programs are supplying a pipeline of skilled graduates to companies at Kennedy Space Center launching the next generation of spaceflight.

aerospace students in Cocoa classroom lab
Aerospace Technology students discuss a project in the program's hands-on lab located on EFSC's Cocoa campus.

Last year, Gov. Ron DeSantis praised the apprenticeship programs, calling them a model for others around Florida to follow as the state strives to expand its high-tech workforce.

Importantly, the college offers several academic pathways that students can use to fit their needs and goals.

At EFSC, students can seamlessly transition from a one-year College Certificate program into a two-year Associate Degree program, and then into a four-year Bachelor Degree.

They can also use EFSC’s DirectConnect program to UCF, where students who graduate with an Associate Degree gain automatic entry into the Orlando university.

Agreements with other colleges and universities, including the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, allow students to continue their education as well.

In yet another area, EFSC is among the state leaders in dual enrollment with thousands of Brevard Public Schools students earning credit for taking college courses, and some graduating from high school with an Associate Degree.

The college is also educating new teachers for Brevard Public Schools through its just-launched Educator Preparation Institute.

More new initiatives are planned, including additional Bachelor’s Degree tracks, construction of a Center for Innovative Technology Education, and gaining distinction as a National Center for Cyber Security & Digital Forensics Education.

“The future of the college is exceptionally bright with our excellent programs and unique spirit giving students a wealth of opportunities,” said Richey.