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01-20-2010, 02:39 PM
NWFSC SOUTH WALTON CENTER OPENS,
Donaldson Entrepreneurial Institute Dedicated

SOUTH WALTON COUNTY--- More than 150 community leaders gathered January 14 to formally open the newest location of Northwest Florida State College, the NWFSC South Walton Center located off of highway 331 south near South Walton High School. The college also dedicated the Allyn C. Donaldson Entrepreneurial Institute which is housed at the center and named in honor of Donaldson, a Santa Rosa Beach resident and long-time supporter of the college’s educational and cultural programs.

The South Walton Center becomes NWFSC’s seventh instructional location in the two-county region and its second center in Walton County, where the college also operates the Chautauqua Center in DeFuniak Springs. Other NWFSC educational centers are located in Crestview, Eglin Air Force Base and Hurlburt Field, as well as campus locations in Niceville and Fort Walton Beach.

The NWFSC South Walton Center has been in the works for more than 15 years from planning to completion. The college’s Board of Trustees Chairman, Wesley Wilkerson of DeFuniak Springs, and interim president Dr. Tom Delaino recognized various individuals who played a key role in the vision and planning for the center including the late James King, former Walton County School District Superintendent, and Van Ness Butler, a former Walton County Commissioner. Also cited were former college Walton County trustees Sally Merrifield, Elizabeth Campbell, Janet Campbell and Allyn Donaldson for their role in the project as well as numerous other former and current college trustees, governmental officials and community leaders. “Suffice it to say, this educational center for South Walton has been the goal and dream of many in the community and we thank all who had a part of bringing this dream to reality,” said Delaino.

“We are so pleased to bring this convenient new college location to the citizens of Walton County,” said Wilkerson, NWFSC board chairman. “Reaching out and making educational opportunities accessible is a key part of our college mission and a South Walton Center has been a central part of our college’s master plan for many years – now, it is a reality.”
Offered at the center this term are college credit classes such as Economics, Environmental Sciences, College Success, Intro to Humanities, Spanish, Psychology and various math courses, as well as an adult education course for speakers of English as a second language. This term the center is also offering non-credit personal enrichment courses such as basic computers, painting with watercolors and acrylics, and workshops on rose gardening and the new national healthcare bill. The non-credit classes begin in late January and February and are still accepting enrollment. Certain college credit classes have already begun, but Psychology and College Success classes start March 2 and are still accepting students.
“We want to grow our offerings each term and try to tailor them to what the local community needs,” noted Dr. David Goetsch, NWFSC vice president for community relations and college centers. Thus far about 200 individuals are enrolled in the various courses at the center.

In addition to a ceremonial ribbon cutting to officially open the center, the college event also included a dedication of the Allyn C. Donaldson Entrepreneurial Institute, a part of the college’s Leadership Institute effort. Donaldson, a retired General Motors executive, is a long-time Santa Rosa Beach resident and former NWFSC Foundation board member and trustee who supported the entrepreneurial program and other endeavors through service on college boards and generous donations to the NWFSC Foundation.
“When you say someone is a ‘friend of the college’, Mr. Allyn Donaldson is the epitome of that sentiment. Since he retired to this region following 40 years at General Motors, Allyn Donaldson has been everything from a mentor to a board member and just about everything in between,” noted the college’s interim president, Tom Delaino, in his dedication remarks. “As true friend of education in Northwest Florida, Mr. Donaldson saw a need for helping businesses and his vision established the Allyn C. Donaldson Entrepreneurial Institute. Through his vision and commitment to this region and higher education opportunities, Allyn Donaldson is truly making a path of success that others may follow.”
The Allyn C. Donaldson Entrepreneurial Institute will host quarterly series of “boot-camp” training for area businesses or those who desire to start a business. The first sessions held at the South Walton Center will be in April and include topics such as Deciding On A Business, The Business Plan, Computer and Communication Tools, Business Licenses and Permits, How to Finance Your Business, and Marketing and International Trade. For information, contact 729-5212.
As part of the dedication of the Donaldson Institute, local South Walton artist Susan Lucas donated an original painting inspired by the natural beauty of South Walton. Lucas, who has a studio on 30A, made the donation in honor of Donaldson in recognition of the valuable contributions he has made to the South Walton Community and the college.
Other donated works that will grace the walls of the center include more than 30 wildlife photographs donated by Walt Spence and Douglas Buck, who used canoes to capture most of the photos they shot along the northern edge of Choctawhatchee Bay. The pair noted that the essential purpose of their collection is educational – reminding observers of the importance of protecting the natural resources of the region.
The wildlife photos compliment another college program that is now housed at the South Walton Center – the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance, an environmental organization which is particularly active in South Walton County with several initiatives including its Dune Lakes work to help preserve the rare coastal dune lakes that dot the region. Julie Terrell, the director of CBA, will also provide primary administrative oversight of the new NWFSC South Walton Center.
The NWFSC South Walton Center is developed on 16 acres of a nearly 30 acre site owned by the college that is part of the county’s government and education center. South Walton High School, the South Walton Library and the Walton County Government Center are located on adjacent parcels of the more than 110 acres originally acquired by the Walton County Commission from the state of Florida.
The NWFSC facility consists of four buildings all under the same roofing structure with about 11,000 square feet of administrative and classroom space to serve the growing south Emerald Coast region. The last time the college broke ground for an instructional facility in Walton County was September 1970, when then Okaloosa-Walton Junior College opened its Chautauqua Center in DeFuniak Springs.
The South Walton site is the college’s second facility in Walton County, one of five centers in outlying communities that are tied to the college's two main campuses in Niceville and Fort Walton Beach. Site work, architectural work and construction for the facility totaled approximately $4.6 million.
A 3,600 square foot Administrative building provides office space for faculty and staff, a conference room, a staff workroom, restrooms and support spaces. The two classroom buildings totaling 6,000 square feet and consist of five instructional classrooms, each able to accommodate an average class size of 18 to 23 students. Also included is a 1,300 square foot computer laboratory.
Other features incorporated into the college's seventh location include exterior courtyards surrounded by integral covered walkways and a signature clock tower. The site was designed with sensitivity to the creation of pedestrian friendly walkways and the preservation of the environment. The architecture of the buildings is influenced by existing South Walton County buildings, as well as that of the notable planned communities nearby, such as Seaside and WaterColor that express a distinctive Florida vernacular. ##