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Suncoast Technical College Earns Its Place in the Sun

February 1, 2021

A Shining Example of Academic Excellence

The sky’s the limit at Suncoast Technical College, whose commitment to helping individuals develop the technical skills and work ethic to reach their highest potential has earned the Sarasota, Florida institution the recognition and respect of COE accreditation since 1971.

Each year, Suncoast Technical College welcomes more than 2,000 students with its broad spectrum of state-of-the-art career and technical offerings designed to prepare students for brighter futures and meet the needs of the local workforce. These include 41 programs, with 15 in Industrial Technologies from Advanced Manufacturing Technology to Automotive Technologies, 10 in Business & IT, six in Health & Public Services like Emergency Medical Services, three at their Criminal Justice Academy and two in Human Services such as Cosmetology.

“Our programs are driven by regional and local high-demand, highly-skilled jobs,” says Dr. Ron DiPillo,Executive Director for Career, Technical & Adult Education at Suncoast Technical College. “We work collaboratively with the community and local workforce to break poverty gaps, and continually modify our courses to prepare and match students to industry.”

The school also shines for its array of adult education courses, apprenticeships, and adult and community enrichment classes ranging from ballroom dancing to basket weaving.

“We specialize in courses that most technical colleges don’t offer,” says Mr. Eric McClendon, Assistant Director at Suncoast Technical College. “This benefits students by allowing them to develop the skills for success.”

Rising to Every Challenge

Every six years, Suncoast Technical College sets its sights on reaccreditation by COE. Applying the same degree of focus used to fully prepare students with technical knowledge and training, the school carefully readies its staff to meet the lofty demands of the reaccreditation process.

“I prepare by providing a presentation to the staff about expectations so we’re all on the same page,” explains Mr. McClendon. “COE is a great resource. Whenever I have questions, I can call and get answers. Their team streamlines the process to make reaccreditation more manageable.”

According to Mr. McClendon, one of the biggest challenges is introducing new faculty and staff to the strict protocols of reaccreditation. These new individuals must be informed about the school and the required documentation before they can join existing staff on collecting and reporting the data needed to demonstrate the school’s academic excellence. Yet Suncoast has always viewed the reaccreditation process as an opportunity instead of an obstacle.

“Rather than see COE reaccreditation as a challenge, we regard it as a way to make us better at what we do, as well as enhance the value to our students and benefit to the industrial community,” explains Dr. Ron DiPillo.

Bringing Educational Quality to Light

Once all of the documentation has been gathered, Suncoast prepares for an on-site visit from COE. These visits may appear brief, but their team covers an extensive amount of ground, including an assessment of programs, interviews with staff and students, a tour of the facilities and a review of the documentation. At the end of these visits, COE shares its decision regarding reaccreditation. For nearly 50 years, Suncoast has risen to the high standards of academic excellence and quality in technical education required for accreditation by COE.

“COE reaccreditation lets a school know how they’re performing and how they stack up against the competition,” adds Dr. DiPillo. “It also tells students, employers and industry that a school offers a valuable, nationally-recognized education and that students are ready for the workforce.”

Celebrating 50 Years of Accreditation: A Remarkable Achievement

Suncoast was one of 21 institutions first accredited by the newly-formed Council in 1971. Throughout the last fifty years, the institution conducted no less than 8 self-studies and hosted as many visits to ensure compliance with the standards of accreditation at intervals averaging every 6 years. Notably, throughout the last half century, Suncoast consistently maintained its ‘good standing’ status with the Council, having never been placed on any type of restrictive violation status which would call into question the quality and integrity of its administration, operations, or programs. This solid reputation and well-documented compliance with standards that ensure quality and integrity in career and technical education is truly a remarkable achievement.