Florida State College at Jacksonville President Cynthia Bioteau announced on Monday her intent to retire from the college at the end of the semester.
“My integrity, purpose, passion and vision have been the cornerstones with which I have walked hand in hand with our students, employees and community,” Bioteau wrote in a letter to the school’s board of trustees. “The pivotal progress that FSCJ has made collectively through the hard-working efforts of our faculty, staff and administrators serves as a point of accomplishment and pride. As a change agent my focus has been bringing us to the present from a broken system of four years ago centering on access, equity, diversity and quality education.”
Bioteau’s last day will be May 31, she wrote.
Her letter, dated Monday, outlined what Bioteau said are her accomplishments during the last four years at the college. They include re-accreditation of the college, an improved student-retention rate and leading the college out of a probation imposed by the U.S. Department of Education.
Bioteau was president of Utah’s Salt Lake Community College when she was hired in late 2013 to be FSCJ’s fifth president.
At the time the college was dealing with the aftermath of a series of issues. The institution had been asked to repay $4.7 million in wrongly issued Pell Grants and fines to the U.S. Department of Education. It had awarded early childhood education degrees to students who failed or never took required state tests.
Bioteau followed, though not immediately, former college president Steve Wallace, whose spending came under scrutiny after the Times-Union found that he charged $187,000 over two years to the college and its foundation for meals, travel, technology and other work expenses. Gov. Rick Scott called for the college to conduct a “top-down review” of the college’s leadership based on his concerns about management. Wallace soon departed with a $1.2-million severance package.
In her letter, Bioteau mentioned “the somber reconciliaton of the Federal Financial Aid issues, requiring correction of numerous internal process and payback of millions for erroneously reported and awarded funds,” as well as “ushering the College out of probation imposed by the U.S. Dept. of Education as an additional consequence for the financial aid crisis.”
Formerly Florida Junior College, the school was established in 1965 as the first racially integrated public post-secondary institution for Duval and Nassau counties. It became known as Florida State College at Jacksonville in 2009 as it began offering four-year degree programs.
Under Bioteau, an outside consultant was hired to run large portions of FSCJ’s financial aid department. Mission and vision statements were rewritten. And in June 2014, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ Commission on Colleges reaccredited FSCJ for another 10 years.
In Feburary 2015, she declared, “My focus has shifted from triage and stopping the bleeding of the past to promise and planning for the future.”
FSCJ launched Pathways to Work in June. That program was designed utilize innovative, accelerated workforce training strategies to prepare students in entry-level occupations in construction trades, culinary arts and global logistics.
In August, Bioteau conceded a new online enrollment process was affecting enrollment but added the problem was being addressed.
In November, FSCJ and KIPP Jacksonville Schools announced a partnership to help get more KIPP alumni through college. Bioteau said then that “We want to encourage every middle school and high school student who lives in the Jacksonville area to come to college.”
Tessa Duvall: 904-359-4697