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Jackson Sasser, the president of Santa Fe College, addresses a crowd of about 60 protesters Tuesday afternoon on campus. The crowd, made up of faculty, students and other activists, gathered during a Board of Trustees meeting to pressure administrators into giving adjunct faculty a vote on whether or not to join a union. Protesting faculty members believe the administration has taken steps to avoid the formation of a union.

Santa Fe College President Jackson Sasser is sharing the college’s status with leaders in Bradford County before retiring.

The State of the College Luncheon will be held Wednesday in Starke at the Gov. Charley E. Johns Conference Center, 1610 N. Temple Ave. The annual event costs $15 per person and keeps the community informed on the college’s progress, Sasser said.

About 200 people are expected to attend the luncheon including city officials, representatives from the school system and leaders of local groups.

Sasser shared similar information with Alachua County at the Fall Convocation and he speaks at rotary clubs throughout the area to keep the community involved.

Sasser will encourage the community to be involved in the search for the college’s next president, he said. 

He is retiring after 17 years as the college’s president. Seven semifinalists for the position were chosen in August by the college’s 18-member Presidential Search Committee. Finalists will be chosen this month.  

At the luncheon, Sasser will address Santa Fe and its particular campaigns as they relate to Bradford County –– where the school’s second campus, the Andrews Center, was renovated about 30 years ago from the Bradford County Courthouse, he said. 

“Each community has its own personality and its own assets,” he said. “I enjoy meeting people where they are and discussing how we can improve Santa Fe College’s services to their area.”

Sasser will share updates on initiatives he started including recruiting more black students from Bradford County and Vision 2021 –– a campaign with the Chamber of Commerce that uses the county’s assets to sets expectations on growing business and industry, he said.

In the past, community initiatives in Starke have encouraged business growth, Sasser said. The college provided five weekends of classes with entrepreneurial training upon requests. 

“I have a real appreciation to the residents of Bradford County for their support and for being honest to the college about how we can better serve them,” he said.

The State of the College Luncheon is important to keep the public aware of what the college is doing, and to become aware of what they are looking for, said Cheryl Canova, the Andrews Center director. 

The campus she oversees has about 450 students enrolled this Fall, she said. 

“Dr. Sasser has played a big role in Bradford County,” she said. “He’s been very supportive of economic development and all our programs.”

Canova said she hopes that the next president of the college focuses on economic development as heavily as Sasser did to help local businesses and the workforce. 

“We’re very sad to see him go, but we hope that our new president will support us as Dr. Sasser has,” she said.