FCCJ to Mark Sailors 'Here' Even If They're 'There' FSU Also Part of Distance Learning

Article excerpt

When officials at Florida Community College at Jacksonville learned the Navy was looking for schools that could educate sailors using distance learning, they jumped at the chance.

After all, the college has been teaching sailors at area naval installations for more than 30 years. And in recent years, FCCJ has beefed up distance learning initiatives, now serving about 7,000 students via television, computer disks and the Internet.

So the chance to combine two of its strengths while bolstering enrollment was an appealing opportunity. Officials filled out a 500-page application this year and recently learned they have been invited to participate.

The college is prepared to add 700 sailors to its distance learning programs next year, an enrollment increase of 10 percent. Growth will continue at a similar pace in subsequent years, officials said.

"It's desirable for the college, because we already have a very large commitment to the largest employer in the city -- the Navy," said Carol Spalding, president of the downtown and open campuses at FCCJ.

The college will partner with Florida State University in Tallahassee to offer some degree programs.

Spalding detailed the program in a recent presentation to the college's Board of Trustees. FSU officials would not confirm their participation in the program, saying the Navy asked them to avoid publicity until all specifics are in place. But a letter sent last month to FSU Provost Larry Abele confirmed the university was accepted into the program.

An official announcement from the Navy is expected this fall, after details are ironed out and agreements are signed with participating schools. Officials from those schools -- including Old Dominion University in Navy-rich Norfolk, Va., and Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach -- are meeting this week with Navy officials in Pensacola.

By January, the Navy is expected to have support systems in place so sailors can apply for the distance learning programs, said spokesman Cmdr. Jack Papp.

FCCJ has been asked, Spalding said, to offer degree programs in four areas: computer and information sciences, communications and psychology. …