Santa Fe College says
Santa Fe College was established by the state legislature in 1965 as a "community college" to offer wide access to quality higher education for citizens of Alachua and Bradford Counties.
Community colleges are a uniquely American creation. In Florida, in the decade between 1957 and 1967, the legislature created a system of 28 community colleges throughout the state. These were located within commuting distance of 99 percent of the state's population, to ensure that Floridians would have access to affordable higher education.
Since its founding, Santa Fe has pursued its mission of educational opportunity, responsiveness to the community, economic development and innovation in the public interest.
Enrollment has grown rapidly. Fewer than 1,000 students enrolled when classes were first offered in September 1966. Today, more than 18,000 students take credit classes and 12,000 more take non-credit classes. Classes are given at three campus sites in Gainesville: the Northwest Campus, , the Blount Center in downtown Gainesville, and the Kirkpatrick Institute for Public Safety in East Gainesville. In addition, Santa Fe offers classes at the Andrews Center in Starke, the Davis Center in Archer, the Perry Center for Emerging Technologies in Alachua, and the Watson Center in Keystone Heights.
The Northwest Campus, which opened in 1972, is set on 175 acres in Gainesville next to Interstate 75. The Andrews Center opened in 1985 in the renovated Bradford County Courthouse, and expanded in 1991 with the addition of the restored Cultural Building and again in 2003 with the addition of the Lillian Stump Educational Building. The Blount Center opened in 1990 in the renovated 6th Street railroad depot, expanded in 1993 with the addition of the renovated Gainesville Gas Co. Building, and again in 2006 with the new Blount Classroom Building. The Davis Center opened in 2004. The Watson Center opened in 2005 with a second building added in 2006. The Perry Center in Alachua opened in 2009 and expanded in 2010. All the centers were built with funds raised in community drives headed by the SF Foundation and operate to bring educational opportunity to residents in the college's Alachua-Bradford County service district.
The college has expanded education programs by increasing the number of classes offered either online or by live broadcasts to the SF centers. More than 4,000 students take online classes each semester.
SF has benefited from strong and stable leadership. The college has had only four presidents in 45 years. Dr. Joseph W. Fordyce was president from 1965 to 1971, when he was succeeded by Alan J. Robertson. Dr. Larry W. Tyree was named president in 1990 and was succeeded on Jan. 1, 2002 by Dr. Jackson N. Sasser.
The growth and expansion of the college have two main causes: educational programs that are designed to meet the needs of students and community and a helpful learning environment that enables students to do their best.
Originally named Santa Fe Junior College, Santa Fe College became the new name in 2008 when it was authorized by Florida's governor and legislature to offer baccalaureate degrees that meet demand for specific skills needed in the economy. SF now offers Bachelor of Applied Science (B.A.S.) degrees in Clinical Laboratory Science and Health Services Administration, a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Early Childhood Education and a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing (B.S.N.). More programs will be added as specific needs are identified.
The college's educational offerings still are primarily the Associate of Arts (A.A.), Associate of Science (A.S.), Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.), and community education programs. The Associate of Arts program consists generally of liberal arts courses. Many students in this program intend to transfer to four-year colleges or universities. SF sends more students to the University of Florida than does any other institution, averaging nearly 1,000 transfers each year.