The investiture of Palm Beach State College president Ava L. Parker took place March 2, culminating a week of activities around the opening of the fifth campus in Loxahatchee Groves.
College and university presidents from around the state and other dignitaries attended the ceremony inaugurating Parker as the college’s fifth president.
I am honored to lead Palm Beach State during this period of growth and new direction,” Parker said in a statement. “All of our employees, our students and our community are critical to the success of this institution and the direction which we are now headed.
“This week is a celebration of the positive impact this institution has on Palm Beach County.”
During the ceremony, Parker announced a $1 million donation to the college from Jan Winkler and Hermine Drezner, of Palm Beach Gardens.
Parker became Palm Beach State’s first female chief July 1, 2015. During her first year, she went to work on helping to secure $9 million from the state Legislature to complete the first building of the fifth campus and keep plans for the campus on track.
The funds had been vetoed the year before her arrival.
She also led the college in signing a memorandum of understanding with Boca Raton-based Modernizing Medicine to create a training hub at the new campus.
Through the partnership, students training for health information technology careers will have access to the company’s technology to help prepare them for the workforce, and Modernizing Medicine will have access to some campus facilities to provide training for its customers.
“When Palm Beach State College president Dennis Gallon decided to retire, I’ll admit I was a little bit nervous for the institution because we know that institutions are built on the foundations of great leaders,” State Sen. Bobby Powell, Jr. said in a statement.
“When it was announced that Dr. Parker would be leading this institution, I had a sigh of relief because I knew that she could take this institution to a greater level,” he said.
Speaking at the investiture, Madeline Pumariega, chancellor of the Florida College System, said, “We pause and celebrate a Florida leader; she’s not only the president of Palm Beach State College, she is the first female president of Palm Beach State College.”
“We celebrate her as a Florida leader, someone who has Florida at heart, and not just our state, but our students and interests,” she said. “She has shown that all through her career with her work in our state university system.”
“She is passionate about our mission,” Pumariega said. “And Ava is passionate about the students and the academy, ensuring that every student has an opportunity to be right here and one day serve as a president or chancellor.”