Jacksonville, FL - It’s about building trust.
On her first week on the job, the new President at Florida State College at Jacksonville called a media roundtable to make one thing clear- her administration would be clear and transparent, because that’s the only way to rebuild the college.
“Trust begins any kind of organizational change for the better,” says Dr. Cynthia Bioteau.
It’s been a rough few y ears at FSCJ, beginning with the inappropriate distribution of financial aid to students and allegations of improper spending by then-President Steven Wallace and drawing down with the Florida Inspector General finding likely ethics violations by Wallace.
Bioteau says she’s coming in to FSCJ with no hesitation, because the challenges here are similar to those she faced when she became President of Salt Lake Community College- her prior position. She says the “foundation” at FSCJ, however, is solid and something that can be built on.
“I bring leadership that looks forward, I bring leadership that is transparent and accountable,” she says.
One of the largest pieces in what she describes as a “mosaic” needed to move FSCJ forward is trust. She’s already started reaching out to community partners, existing and new, because she believes solid relationships build trust. Working with those community partners is something Bioteau says will be a priority from the beginning.
“I’m here to take what is here- what is so good about this institution- and bring it forward,” she says.
A main focus through this first year of what she expects will be a two year rebuilding process is the fundamentals of education. Bioteau says she hopes to see progress in reducing the number of high school dropouts, increasing the graduation rate at FSCJ, and increasing the rate of graduates who transition to a university or a job.
She hopes those goals will be aided, at least in part, by the $10,000 degree that will roll-out in the Fall. FSCJ has created a degree in logistics which Bioteau believes is a crucial part of the local and evolving global economy, although the choice to offer the degree was made before she was at FSCJ.
Bioteau also recognizes that part of getting an education from FSCJ is paying for it, and she acknowledges that many may still be wary about getting aid through the college because of problems which surfaced when they improperly distributed Pell Grants, and then started asking the students pay that money back.
“The problem has been recognized, it has been addressed over the last year, it is still being addressed,” she says.
FSCJ later found money so students did not have to repay the money they thought they rightfully received. Bioteau says that although her review of their financial aid process is still ongoing, she “guarantees” any student who needs federal aid will get it.
Another priority is upgrading the operating system used at the college. Poor technology was blamed for multiple problems in efficiencies and errors during an independent review commissioned by the college. Bioteau says that is something she plans to tackle soon.