Convocation

Chuck Clemons, Santa Fe’s Vice President for Advancement, shows off a water-damaged compact VHS tape from a 25-year-old time capsule during Santa Fe College's Convocation on Monday. Baseball cards, photos and other memorabilia were recovered from the container as well.

Aaron Albright / Alligator Staff

Santa Fe College commenced 2016 with its Spring Convocation in the Fine Arts Hall on Monday, reflecting on the past and looking to the future.

“This year has been a milestone year of great proportions,” Student Body President Conor Flynn said in a video message.

In 2015, Second Lady Jill Biden visited the college and the Aspen Institute ranked Santa Fe the No. 1 community college in the nation.

Moving into 2016, SFC President Jackson Sasser urged faculty and staff to continue their successful work. He also emphasized the importance of finding ways to improve.

“What more can we do (for students)?” Sasser asked the audience of mostly staff and faculty, whom he praised for helping Santa Fe get to where it is today.

SG, Flynn said, plans to assess students’ opinions of the college’s tobacco policy and continue to work with the Florida legislature to address homeless students.

Sasser later welcomed to the stage former Santa Fe President Dr. Lawrence “Larry” Tyree, for whom the college’s library is named.

“It’s good to be back after a hiatus of 14 years,” said Tyree, who served as president from 1990 to 2001.

Looking back on his time as president, Tyree recalled the 1990 murders of Santa Fe and UF students as being the most challenging event of his career.

“While the murders were more than 25 years ago, I remember the fear and hysteria that enveloped this community,” Tyree said.

The events, Tyree said, led to heightened security, flexibility of rules and policies, and better communication inside the college and the community.

Today, the college has its own police department which operates 24/7. Sasser said it’s comforting to have officials who know how to respond to an emergency.

Such an emergency could include a shooter on campus, which Sasser said was highly unlikely but possible. Still, he showed a news clip on how people should react during a shooting and urged faculty and staff to consider how they would react.

“Think about it — it’s just the world we live in — and then do what you need to do,” Sasser said.

At the end of the convocation, Vice President for Advancement Chuck Clemons joined Sasser to present baseball cards, a Polaroid photo, a Pepsi card and a compact VHS tape inside a time capsule that was buried 25 years ago.

However, water seeped into the capsule over the years and destroyed the VHS tape and photo. The cards remained intact, but were far from pristine.

Sasser said another time capsule would be placed inside the recently constructed clock tower, safe from rainwater, and will be opened in 2041.

“May this be the very best semester ever,” Sasser said.

Email Hunter Williamson at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @hunterewilliam