St. Petersburg College celebrates 95 years

Gaining city recognition from the mayor of St. Petersburg for it’s 95th anniversary, September 12 is now “SPC Day.”

On Sept. 12, St. Petersburg College (SPC) celebrated its 95th anniversary with an event called “SPC Day.” This was held at the St. Pete/Gibbs campus of the college in the student services building from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., welcoming any and all supporters of the establishment to celebrate the college’s past and future alike. 

The first day of classes at SPC were held on this same date in 1927, with only 102 students enrolled and 14 faculty members. During the 1920s, citizens of St. Pete began to talk about the need for a place where local every-day residents can get the skills needed for the work force and get a more affordable education. St. Petersburg college, led by first president George Lynch, gave the people of this area that opportunity.  

And this past Monday, the community celebrated just how far the college has come. Concession stands filled the outdoor common areas giving out free goodies, SPC Titan decorated food and beverages, T-shirts, and more – all in honor. There were also games such as cornhole and wheel-spinning giveaways for attendees to enjoy. 

“Knowing that the college is supporting you, it has a lot of opportunities… it’s cool knowing everyone is involved,” SPC Day attendee and Lakewood sophomore Charlize Colaluce said. 

Those who were present at the event were encouraged by the Board of Trustees to donate money to The Titan Fund, a fundraiser for the expenses of new student resources and organizations proposed by the president of the college, Dr. Tonjua Williams and the mayor of St. Pete, Ken Welch. The goal was to have 300 donors in 24 hours, and it was achieved with a 113% success, obtaining 340 donors and 225 thousand dollars. 

“SPC week started last week, and we’ve had a lot of good attendance and a lot of involvement. It’s about letting people know how it started, where it all began, and what we’ve done in the last 95 years,” SPC President Dr. Tonjua Williams said. 

Williams shared her beliefs in helping all people, allowing not just students to grow, but the employees as well. Each leader who spoke at the celebration stated their missions and goals of empowering academic greatness and building new legacies for St. Pete College. 

“If it weren’t for SPC, I would not be a college president because there were several people, when I started in 1986, who helped me learn how to be an education leader and encouraged me to go back to school to get my master’s and my Doctorate,” Williams said. 

Many of the attendees present were alumnus of the college, one of which was veteran and graduate of the class of 1957, Norman Bungard. 

Bungard lived in Bradenton when he went to SPC, then called St. Petersburg Junior College, but it was too expensive to cross the bridge to get to school every day at $1.50 so he would stay near the school with friends. He almost had to drop out after the first semester, as he couldn’t afford it, but then President Michael Bennet helped pay his tuition and he was able to finish his one year. Following his time at SPJC, he served in the military stationed in Korea during the Cold War. 

Bungard attended the SPC Day festivities with never-ending enthusiasm and love for the staff, campus and school as a whole, even 65 years later. 

“Going to SPJC boosted my confidence,” Bungard said.  

Florida State Senator Darryl Rouson stated that St. Petersburg Junior College is just as significant as any other college. The City of St. Pete partnered with SPC to make September 12 the official “SPC Day” and make the anniversary event possible.

“The proclamation is a recognition of the importance… it’s an official city recognition,” Mayor Ken Welch said. “Everyone has a connection to St. Petersburg College.” 

Welch, the Mayor of the city since 2022, went to SPC as well as Lakewood High School, giving him a personal connection to the event and understanding of its importance. Another representative of the city, councilwoman Deborah Figgs-Sanders agreed with the mayor’s notions wholeheartedly. 

“I am honored to not only be here in attendance but just to be, to be seen, to be here representing District 5 in the city we call home,” Figgs-Sanders said.